After months of speaking behind a phone and computer screen, Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC) board members were safely reunited Aug. 17 and 18 in Brookings, S. D., for a variety of tours, followed by their board meeting.
The farmers who oversee the allocation of soybean checkoff dollars had the opportunity to first visit the South Dakota State University Swine Research and Education Facility, a previous checkoff investment.
“Without your contribution, this facility would not have been made possible,” said Bob Thaler, SDSU Extension swine specialist. “If we just relied on the contributions of South Dakota and its commodity groups, we wouldn’t be here today.”
MSR&PC invested $500,000 in the facility, which opened its doors October 2016. The on-campus facility entails a 45- seat classroom, observation corridor, gestation room, farrowing rooms and surgery suite for instruction and research.
“This tour allowed new board members, who weren’t around for the start of this project, to see the success of this checkoff investment,” said Tom Slunecka, MSR&PC CEO. “The research and information coming out of this facility is outstanding.”
The facility has conducted numerous nutrition and amino acid research projects with the support of soybean checkoff dollars.
Following the swine tour, the board visited the new SDSU Raven Precision Agricultural Center, which is currently under construction with plans to host students come fall 2021.
“The Raven Precision Agriculture Center will bring agronomy, engineering and computer science disciplines under one roof,” said Mark Sandager, development director for the SDSU College of Agriculture. “This building will be the first in the world to focus solely on precision agriculture and offer both a major and minor precision agriculture.”
MSR&PC Chair Cole Trebesch, an SDSU alumni, says this building will be a game changer for the next generation.
“With more than half of SDSU’s students coming from Minnesota, these state-of-the-art facilities have a direct impact on the future of farming,” Trebesch said. “It’s encouraging to see the growth of the agriculture program and how they continue to push our industry forward.”
Traveling seven miles west from Brookings, the group ended their lineup of tours at Prairie Aquatech, a protein production facility for aquaculture feed.
“Providing soybean-based fish food adds value for our farmers,” Slunecka said. “We continue to search for new uses of soybeans. Aquaculture is one of those avenues for growth.”
Along with the tours, the Council also hosted their board meeting to discuss the upcoming fiscal year, strategic plan, budget and hear updates on current projects at the local and national level.
“Being able to get our group together safely was a great feeling,” Trebesch said. “Virtual meetings and phone calls can only do so much. We enjoyed being able to learn together and talk face-to-face. These two days were well worth the wait.”