As a 10-year veteran of the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC), Eric Thorn knows a thing or two about the soybean checkoff and Council investments.
Thorn, a District 9 representative from Chatfield, Minn., serves as the secretary of the Executive Committee and as the chairman of the Production action team, working closely with MSR&PC partners at the University of Minnesota on research-and-development projects.
Thorn is most passionate about the investment of checkoff dollars to create new types of soybeans.
“Research, for the health of soybeans and to invent new varieties, is important for the Minnesota soybean community,” he says. “New varieties of healthy soybeans will help to proactively combat diseases that threaten our beans, as well as open up new markets for them.”
Not only is Thorn a leader for MSR&PC, he comes from a long line of farming. His grandfather began farming nearly 95 years ago in Wyoming. His family later settled in Minnesota and began farming near Chatfield in 1968. Thorn has been running his own operation for 22 years, rotating corn and soybeans, as well as raising 110 head of black Angus cattle.
“My favorite part about farming is seeing what I’ve accomplished after six or eight months — seeing the crops I’ve produced and watching the newborn calves in the spring,” he says.
Minnesotans may be surprised to learn how checkoff dollars get invested. The Council works to invest checkoff dollars in ways that continue education about soybean farming, create new domestic and international market opportunities, and support research for new uses of soybeans. Not only is the checkoff enabling research and development, but it is helping to develop leaders and opening up new opportunities.
“It’s amazing the amount of people you get to know and have a good bond and friendship with in other parts of the world,” Thorn says. “These people want to stay in contact with the growers to see what we’re doing in the market — soybeans are very much a market-driven commodity.”