Farmfest 2021: Together again

Minnesota Soybean reunited with the state’s farm community over three days at the 2021 Farmfest while promoting checkoff investments and legislative policy priorities.

“We had a wonderful time engaging with growers throughout the state and highlighting checkoff investments,” said Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council Chair Joe Serbus, who farms in Bird Island. “After a difficult year, we were excited to return to Farmfest, and the event lived up to the anticipation.”

In a packed booth, Council showcased its flourishing Driving Soy campaign. The ag community was afforded the chance to nominate a local nonprofit to win a set of soy-based Goodyear tires. Participants who participated in the Checkoff Challenge scavenger hunt we’re also eligible to win a pair of Goodyear’s Assurance WeatherReady tires. The Council also displayed its revolutionary 1.5 million-gallon Plasma Blue unit, which could cut biodiesel production costs by up to 8 cents per gallon.

“This is a prime example of soybean farmers on the cutting edge of technology,” Council CEO Tom Slunecka told Rep. Tom Emmer. “This unit makes biodiesel far less expensively than traditional methods, and it does this because we use electricity instead of natural gas to create the process.”

A meeting of the minds: MSGA President Mike Skaug and MSR&PC Chair Joe Serbus visit during Farmfest 2021.

The Minnesota Soybean Growers Association hosted more than a dozen legislators and state leaders in its booth. Farmers leaders and Executive Director Joe Smentek hosted state and national officials, including Rep. Emmer, Rep. Angie Craig, Gov. Tim Walz, Attorney General Keith Ellison, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and House Speaker Melissa Hortman. New President Mike Skaug and Vice President Bob Worth were on hand all three days to discuss MSGA’s 2021 legislative wins and policy priorities with elected officials. MSGA also recruited dozens of new members and sold raffle tickets for its Ice Fish House, which was made in Minnesota with soy-based materials.

“We appreciate the bipartisan group of legislators who visited our booth to hear our concerns and priorities,” said Skaug, who farms in Beltrami. “We had a lot of good, constructive conversations about biofuels, water quality issues and how we can all work together to uplift farm communities in Minnesota.”

On Wednesday, Worth participated in a energy panel alongside Rep. Craig and urged energy leaders to embrace higher levels of biodiesel.

“Biodiesel, it’s a proven fact that it works,” he said. “Three words I want you to remember: biodiesel is clean, better, now.”

Farmfest returned to Gilfillan Estate in 2021 after going virtual in 2020. This year marked the 40th year of the three-day event.

“Come back next year,” Slunecka told one attendee. “We’ll have some more innovation to show off.”

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