Impressive vision: MSR&PC hosts USB CEO  

While a soggy start to the end of April kept field equipment in park, agriculture discussions remained in drive as the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC) welcomed United Soybean Board (USB) Chief Executive Officer Lucas Lentsch to its newly renovated office space in Mankato of Ag Management Solutions (AMS), the group which oversees the Council’s daily operations.  

During the 90-minute meeting, Council staff, led by CEO Tom Slunecka, walked Lentsch through MSR&PC’s various checkoff initiatives, including the Ag Innovation Campus, growing the Uzbekistan market and Minnesota’s organized county soybean boards.  

“There is so much momentum here,” Lentsch said. “I’m so impressed with the vision of this space. It’s been so refreshing to see this level of leadership.”  

Lentsch’s trip to Mankato marked the seventh along his 21-day, multi-state tour, which is taking him to several farms. For the South Dakota native, it was a special excursion: He visited Minnesota on his way to South Dakota – on his birthday, no less.  

“I’ve had many hot-seat experiences in my career so far, but this experience and this conversation here in Mankato has just been friendly,” said Lentsch.  

Following the visit with Council officials, Lentsch toured a local farm near Farmington.  

MSR&PC CEO Tom Slunecka (right) visits with USB CEO Lucas Lentsch in the Council’s new headquarters in Mankato on April 29, 2024.

Lentsch is five months into his leadership role at USB, with deep roots in agriculture and a wealth of checkoff program knowledge. He most recently served as executive vice president of Dairy Management Inc., which works with the national dairy checkoff program.  

“I’m very happy to be in this role as USB CEO. It’s kind of like the dog that caught the tire,” said Lentsch.  

Time on the farm is a high priority for Lentsch as he settles into his new role. In fact, he plans to dedicate a large segment of his future tours to farm visits and building relationships with farmers.  

“It’s interesting. You think stepping into this role, you think you understand. But once you step onto the farm site, it brings a new perspective,” said Lentsch. “You learn about their vision, their nuances, their frustrations and their success. It’s been a such an interesting experience really getting inside the mind of a soybean farmer.” 

In addition to his professional accomplishments, Lentsch has a personal connection to agriculture. Growing up on a first-generation dairy farm in South Dakota, he understands the challenges and opportunities that farmers face. His experience as the South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture and his service as a commanding officer with the Army National Guard further demonstrate his commitment to community. 

As he rounded out his farm tour, Lentsch planned to use the new tools he’s garnered through his experience in Mankato to continue to mold USB into a pillar for transparency, efficiency and accountability in the agriculture industry.  

“I’ve been so impressed with my conversations with top-notch leaders here in Mankato,” said Lentsch. “These are the leaders that will define the value in the agriculture industry through their efforts of innovation and commercialization at the local, regional and international level. Soy organizations are truly able to punch their weight by working with organizations like AMS.” 

Council and AMS CEO Tom Slunecka said his team appreciated the face-to-face visit with Lentsch. In total, Minnesota supports four farmers on USB: Lawrence Sukalski (who sits on the Executive Committee), Council Chair Tom Frisch, Patrick O’Leary and Gene Stoel.  

“It was a great opportunity to sit down with a national leader in our new office and have some dialogue on how we can work together to advance the checkoff program that Minnesota farmers contribute to,” he said. “While Lucas runs USB, he’s well grounded and understands the value of leadership at the local and state levels.”  

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