Behind the Dollar with Pat Sullivan 

A checkoff-centric Q&A with Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC) Secretary Pat Sullivan.  

Read below to learn more about Pat and his thoughts on the Council’s Behind the Dollar initiative. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.    

Q: Can you give us a quick background on your farm?  

Pat Sullivan: I’m a farmer in Renville County and I farm with my older brother and a younger brother. And we grow soybeans, corn, sweet corn, peas, lima beans and sugar beets. 

Q: What region of the state do you represent on the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council? How long have you been on the board? 

PS: I represents District 5 & 6 and I’ve been on the board since 2013. 

Q: Why did you decide to run for the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council? 

PS: My story’s a little odd. I got asked to fill in when there was an open spot and then when that open spot came up, I decided to run, thinking I knew what Council did. I had no idea until I got on the board and learned what we were doing and what we were all involved with that I really learned the difference between Council and the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association. 

Q: Why do you feel the checkoff is critical to Minnesota’s soybean farmers? 

PS: It’s more critical than ever right now because we are trying to sell soybeans anywhere we possibly can throughout the country. We are trying to find that niche that hasn’t been tapped into, whether it’s new uses like building supplies or, using it in different things for manufacturing or something. We just don’t know the future. 

Q: How does the board ensure checkoff dollars are invested responsibly? 

PS: We have teams, we put out RFPs (requests for proposals) and we come together as a group, and we try to figure out where that money would make the most impact. We have a mission statement we follow, and we try to invest the checkoff dollars in programs that are compliant and educational. We try to raise the value of soybeans for everybody in the state.  

Q: How has directing checkoff funds raised your awareness of the soy checkoff? 

PS: I learned about the wide variety of different things that checkoff can do in trying to boost either the production of soybeans through research and or varieties or so much more. I didn’t really realize all the things that go into the checkoff and the number of national organizations that you team up with, to do big, big projects. 

Q: What project(s) are you most proud of that you have seen since being on the board? 

PS: I think getting the Ag Innovation Campus up and running is a huge accomplishment and no small thing. When that comes into play, and we get all the phases going, I think that is going to be a neat thing. The Plasma Blue project is interesting, too. A few years ago, we had a huge push for biodiesel, and we did the Diesel Brothers’ truck. That was pretty neat. But if I have to say right now, I think I’m very proud of our new building for representing Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council and Minnesota Growers Soybean Association and our company, Ag Management Solutions. I think we built a state-of-the-art knowledge facility for the future for technology, reaching out to different trade groups and different people and bringing industry into our building and having a spot for everybody to come together. I think that was a huge accomplishment. 

Q: Many checkoff investments are made to impact our future growers. What are some checkoff-supported projects coming down the pipeline that you’re excited about? 

PS: Some of the projects that we’ve been doing, across the pond, Uzbekistan, if we can get them to take more soybeans and different things, that would be great. I think one of the big things is in shipping, and the same St. Lawrence Seaway, if we can get some different opportunities or better shipping rates, that’s a neat thing that’s in the works. 

Q: What do you think the biggest misconception other farmers have about the soy checkoff program? How would you respond to their concerns? 

PS: I think they don’t realize what they’re getting for their checkoff. The type of research, the type of people fighting for us to get the correct word out or talking to the right groups in all the areas of the world to buy our product instead of other products.  

Q: Where can another farmer go to get more information on how their dollars are being spent? 

PS: They can go to mnsoybean.org or sign up for Minneline, our newsletter. They can look at Soybean Business magazine, or reach out to us directly for questions.

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