MSGA President’s Perspective: Membership Matters

March 24, 2016 / by Paul Freeman, MSGA President Categories: Association News, Minnesota Soybean Growers Association, Paul Freeman

How do you make decisions about your farming operation? Many would say they collaborate with local, specialized experts when making decisions impacting their bottom line. The same can be said for the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA).

Over 50 years ago, a few Minnesota soybean growers strongly believed in working together through a membership-based soybean organization and formed MSGA. Perhaps working together seems even more important today. Those involved in the formation of our organization had the vision long ago of the many uses for soybeans; however, they also knew there could be stumbling blocks along the way. They took matters into their own hands, believing the actions of few could make a difference and the actions of many could make an impact.

Since the inception of MSGA, soybean growers have seen many advancements and some say we’re just getting started. New technologies, greater access to markets and many new opportunities make for exciting times in our industry. Yet with increased success comes increased scrutiny which often times leads to misinformation and fear. These advancements will require more effort from our members -knowing full well things may not go as smoothly as in the past.

As the list for new uses and new markets increases, which is supported through the federally-mandated checkoff program and financially directed by the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council (MSR&PC), scrutiny from our advances will also rise. While checkoff funds cannot be used for lobbying activities, that doesn’t mean the two organizations don’t work together. Quite the opposite is true as it takes both organizations to get the job done.

It would be a mistake to believe that our job as farmers ends at the farm gate. Closer scrutiny and debate over genetically modified crops will continue as influencers are far removed from the farm and making decisions based on fear rather than science. The result? Labeling laws that will impact the hungry and low income families. This baffles me. We have so many children going to bed hungry while in the U.S., we raise the safest food in the world- and an abundant supply of it. We also get involved in debates around livestock production (soybean’s largest consumer of soybean meal) and find ourselves at odds with groups like the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

With all the issues we face, MSGA membership is as important today as it was 50 years ago. Thank you to those who are members– we appreciate your support and effort to recruit. Past members, renew your membership today, as we are looking to you for continued support. To those of you who would like to become a member, we ask that you join us. You are no longer required to grow soybeans but just an interest in agriculture and the soybean industry.

As farmers we need to work together through the challenges just as our founders long ago. The math is simple: more opportunities + more scrutiny = the need for more members working together. Membership truly matters!

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