The Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA) finalized its policy resolutions and hosted the state’s farming community during a full agenda of networking and advocacy at the annual MN Ag Expo in Mankato.
MSGA co-hosts MN Ag Expo with the Minnesota Corn Growers Association. To begin the two-day conference, MSGA hosted its Annual Meeting and Delegate Session. During the finalizing of the resolution process, farmers debated and approved resolutions related to right to repair farm equipment, drainage, biodiesel and more. The board also amended its bylaws to expand MSGA’s governing board to include two alternate members.
“It’s always a great feeling when you’ve come together as delegates and discuss the issues that we’re going to focus on this year,” MSGA President Bob Worth said. “This serves as our roadmap for the upcoming legislative session.”
The board also announced its annual awards, including a new honor, the Spirit of MSGA Award, which recognizes legislators who reflect MSGA’s bipartisan efforts to promote farm-friendly policies. Congresswoman Angie Craig and Rep. Brad Finstad earned this year’s accolades.
“I can’t overstate the importance of Minnesota’s soybean growers and producers to agriculture economy and our country’s economy,” Rep. Craig said in her acceptance video. “It’s your hard work that literally fuels our communities.
Because Congress is in session, both Craig and Rep. Finstad, who grows soybeans in Brown County, accepted the award from Washington, D.C.
“I’m honored to be awarded the Spirit of MSGA award,” Rep. Finstad said. “As more people become disconnected from farm country, it’s now critical more than ever we stand shoulder to shoulder with those of all political stripes working to give a voice to (farmers).”
MSGA lobbyists Cory Bennett and A.J. Duerr were named MSGA’s Soy Advocates of the Year for their work in St. Paul on behalf of the organization. In recent years, Bennett and Duerr articulate MSGA’s priorities to state legislators and have helped secure tax relief, funding for the Ag Innovation Campus, protected biodiesel and more.
“Our board and delegates set a clear direction, while our lobbyists are MSGA’s boots on the ground at the Capitol,” Bob Worth said. “That’s how the world of policy works – you’re either at the table or on the menu. We’re biased, but we have the best of the best speaking up for us at the policy table in Cory Bennett and A.J. Duerr.”
Clay-Wilkin’s board was MSGA’s County of the Year. MSGA Director and County Board President Jeremy Tischer accepted on behalf of his county.
“By being strong advocates for soybeans and spreading goodwill in their community, Clay-Wilkin soybean farmers are helping to share our message and advocate for our state’s soybean industry,” Executive Director Joe Smentek said.
Following the board meeting, MSGA directors engaged with media, visited with exhibitors and attendees on the sold-out trade show floor and attended numerous breakout and learning sessions, including a livestock panel led by Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council CEO Tom Slunecka. Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen, Rep. Paul Torkelson and Sen. Aric Putam (chair of the Senate Ag Committee) were also on the trade show floor visiting with farmers and industry leaders in advance of the upcoming legislative session, which begins Feb. 12.
“It was great to visit with legislators and Commissioner Petersen and his team at MDA to talk about some of our policy priorities,” MSGA Vice President Darin Johnson said.
For the dinner keynote, University of Minnesota head football coach P.J. Fleck delivered a rousing speech to a captivated crowd on leadership, teamwork and resiliency. Fleck, who grew up in a farming community in Illinois, tailored his hour-long presentation to the farming crowd.
“Farmers are the most selfless people on the planet,” he said.
On Wednesday night, MSGA hosted its annual After Hours social at the Loose Moose Saloon to raise funds for the organization’s advocacy mission.
Throughout the two-day conference and trade show, MSGA directors participated in the first-ever Young & Emerging Farmer Workshop, which was spearheaded by an MSGA committee led by Director Adam Guetter.
To close out Thursday’s programming, MSGA hosted a biofuels panel that looked at the future of biodiesel and sustainable aviation fuel.