Behind the Dollar with Tom Frisch 

A checkoff-centric Q&A with Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC) Chair Tom Frisch.  

Read below to find out Tom’s thoughts on the Council’s Behind the Dollar initiative and the wide-ranging impact of checkoff investments. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.    

Q: Give us a quick background on your farm. 

Tom Frisch: It’s a family farm, fourth-generation and we grow soybeans, corn and alfalfa. I farm with three cousins in west central Minnesota. 

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

TF: I’m in District 4 and starting my sixth year.  

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

TF: Just because I really didn’t know much about the soybean checkoff. I didn’t know much about the Council. I thought the best way to learn is to get involved. 

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

TF: Through helping with research and helping work collaboratively with universities, private industry, bringing it all together from production agriculture and research to investments. All of this to help farmers grow the supply side and the demand side by trying to find and open new markets to increase demand for soybeans to help keep prices stable. 

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

TF:   The soybean checkoff dollars are directed by farmers themselves. Farmers are elected through the process by the Minnesota Department of Ag. We have open transparent board meetings. We spend a ton of time going over each project, vetting the projects- pros, cons, how much value brings back to Minnesota soybean farmer before any investment is made. 

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

TF: Just seeing how the process works has been the best part and most informative part. I know that it’s a long process before any soybean checkoff dollars are invested. We make sure that we cross all our T’s, dot all our I’s and make sure that it’s a good investment. 

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

TF: Every year is a little different. I think getting six containers to Uzbekistan of U.S. soymeal is a big deal. That is a market we can open up and increase and get more over there.  

Ag in the Classroom is another super important investment the Council makes. Educating on the checkoff and agriculture are a part of what the Council does for the soybean checkoff, as well as educating on agriculture issues. 

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? 

TF: One project I’m really excited about, but it’s a United Soybean Board (USB) project is following the process to help a company develop a soy-based chemistry curriculum for college courses. That hasn’t been approved by the board yet, hopefully in July. 

Continuing to work with Uzbekistan and to highlight the benefits of my northern-grown soybeans and how they’re more beneficial to animals. The new research, there’s always something new coming out that helps farmers with increasing yields. And hopefully we can get that out to the farmers faster. 

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

TF: Farmers just don’t understand what the soybean checkoff does. I just think that people don’t understand what the checkoff is about or what it does. That’s why this Behind the Dollar campaign is great to get some more education or at least it steers them in the right direction of who they can get a hold of and ask them to explain what it is. 

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

TF: They can go to the website, or they can go find out who their representative is on the checkoff board. They can call the office and the office will answer questions if they can, or will direct farmers to someone who can answer the questions. 

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