MSGA talks ‘game changer’ in St. Paul

The Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA) participated in a “Ag Innovation During Changing Times” presentation before the House Agriculture and Food Finance and Policy Division Tuesday in St. Paul.

MSGA Director Mike Skaug testified about the benefits of a soybean crush and biodiesel facility at the University of Minnesota Crookston as part of a proposed “Soy Innovation Campus.”

Polk County farmer Mike Skaug is advocating to legislators to support the Soy Innovation Campus at the University of Minnesota Crookston.

“This proposed facility will fill a growing need for value-added agriculture in northern Minnesota,” Skaug told the committee. “Farmers, like any business owner, are always looking for ways to increase their revenue, and this proposed crush and biodiesel facility aims to improve the bottom line of Minnesota farmers.”

Minnesota Soybean Senior Director of Product Development and Commercialization Mike Youngerberg also testified, outlining the benefits of the facility. According to a University of Minnesota study, construction of the four main facilities will generate  $134 million in economic activity and support 820 jobs; while long-term economic activity in the region would generate $324 million and supports 330 jobs. In addition, new businesses, both large and small, will be able to co-locate to the Soy Innovation Campus and increase the long-term viability of the region. The study estimates the crush and biodiesel facility would increase the price of soybeans in the region by up to 20 percent.

“The Soy Innovation Campus would be a game changer for northern Minnesota farmers, and we are eager to see this come to fruition,” Skaug said.

A website and video detailing the specifics of the project was also unveiled Tuesday.

After the hearing, Skuag, Youngerberg and MSGA Executive Director Joe Smentek met with Sen. Torrey Westrom (R-Elbow Lake), chair of the Agriculture, Rural Development and Housing Finance Committee, and Committee Vice Chair Sen. Mark Johnson (R-East Grand Forks).

On Thursday, Rep. Deb Kiehl (R-Crookston) introduced a bill in the House supporting the project.

“We had very constructive conversations with both senators about our long-term outlook for the crush and biodiesel facility and the Soy Innovation Campus,” Smentek said. “Excitement is building, and we look forward to continuing this dialogue with legislators throughout the session.”

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