With a passion for research and an impressive background working with farmer advocacy groups, Gene Stoel, a corn and soybean farmer from Lake Wilson, Minn., makes a great addition to the United Soybean Board (USB). Stoel also serves as a District 7 representative for the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC), where he is an advocate for involvement and promotion, especially when it shows results for farmers.
“I don’t know of any manufacturing company, or any company producing a product, that doesn’t promote itself,” says Stoel. “I feel that we, as farmers, need to promote ourselves and our crop. The soybean checkoff has been great in helping us accomplish that.”
Stoel talks about the importance of serving at both the state and national level for the soybean checkoff. Half of the checkoff collections in Minnesota stay right here and go to work on research and marketing efforts specific to the needs of Minnesota farmers, and half to go USB to focus on priorities that impact all U.S. soybean farmers.
With more than 25 years of checkoff successes, Stoel didn’t have to look very far to find ways both the state and national groups have benefited soybean farmers.
“If it wasn’t for the Minnesota checkoff, we wouldn’t have a biofuels industry,” says Stoel. “Minnesota soybean farmers were the ones who proved biodiesel works. We crush soybeans for meal, then use the residual product for oil. We can take the oil and make a fuel out of it. That, to me, was pretty forward looking on the part of a lot of good farmers.”
Not only is research imperative to developing new ways to grow and market soybeans, but it also helps identify new uses for the crop. Stoel credits the checkoff for Minnesota’s biofuels industry. Biodiesel contributes 63 cents of added value to each bushel of soybeans, making it easy to see the checkoff in action.
While you won’t hear Stoel tipping his hat about his own service, he has a long track record with both state and national farm organizations. For several years, he has been involved with MSR&PC and the North Central Soybean Research Program (NCSRP). He was recently elected president of NCSRP, along with being appointed to USB by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Stoel’s volunteer commitment runs deep; his first term on the MSR&PC board was in 2007, and he has since held multiple positions, including research chair, vice chairman and chairman, between 2010 and 2012.
“I think that’s where USB, and the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council, do a good job of promotion, as well as making sure that people know we’re doing so much more than growing soybeans,” Stoel says. “We’re constantly researching, investing and marketing our product to further the industry.”