The past couple weeks have been busy at the Minnesota Soybean office. With the financial year ending, now is the time to listen to proposals and plan for the next year. The Association board members have the opportunity to work with Council on seven action teams. Bringing together directors from MSGA and MSR&PC allows us to maximize the amount of experience needed when proposing programs to the Council.
Two additional action teams, membership and advocacy, are exclusive to MSGA. This separation is important for everyone, because per federal law, soybean checkoff dollars cannot be used to lobby or influence the political process.
Having the grassroots background and the ability to lobby is more important each day for farmers. So when you are asked to join MSGA, remember only non-checkoff contributions can be used to represent you in St. Paul.
When the Membership action team met recently, it focused on ways to meet membership goals. Due to your dedication, Minnesota has the most members of any soybean association in the nation. A good example of this dedication is that of our past Membership action team chair’s county. Two-thirds of the growers in her county are members. This has to be a record for saturation for any county in the nation; thanks goes out to Theresia Gillie of Kittson County for making this happen. I challenge all of us to drive for involvement like this.
The Advocacy action team was also lively. MSGA directors are engaged in discussions on past successes and challenges and how best to influence elected officials in 2016. To this point, I want to reach out to everyone reading this and ask: Do you have connections with public officials, whether it be a neighbor, relative or acquaintance? If so, drop me or your MSGA director from your county a line. We are always looking for new connections to get our message out and leverage the grassroots potential of our membership.
The wealth of knowledge combined into these action teams has allowed us to drill down in great detail on topics to be more effective for Minnesota soybean farmers. Staff at the Mankato office has been great and right at our side as we charge into greater engagement on the betterment of the soybean industry.
It is hard to make a positive influence on our industry by standing alone. But by joining together as a team or as a member of MSGA, it becomes a little bit easier.
Paul Freeman is President of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association and farms near Starbuck, Minn. He can be reached at email@example.com.