MN Soybean covers ground at Prairie Grains Conference

The Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC) teamed up with the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA) to visit with the state’s northern farming community at the annual Prairie Grains Conference Dec. 13-14 in Grand Forks, N.D.

Kittson County farmer and Council Director Kris Folland and his wife, Bethany, made the 70-mile trek down to Grand Forks from his farm in Halma.

“It’s been an honor to represent the Council and the soy checkoff at Prairie Grains,” said Folland, a director for nine years.

But this year’s conference was a tad bittersweet for Folland: The Council director has decided to step down from his District 1, 2 & 3 board position later this year.

“We had a great time at this year’s Prairie Grains Conference, with lots of networking,” said Folland, a field services manager with the Minnesota Crop Improvement Association. “As someone who loves research, I always find lots of relevant information here to take back to my farm.”

The Council is a platinum sponsor of the Prairie Grains Conference and helps support Minnesota Wheat’s On-Farm Research Network, which held its 11th annual Summit to begin the two-day agenda.

Research is a key component of the conference, and soy checkoff-supported researchers were in abundance at the Alerus Center, including University of Minnesota Soybean Breeder Aaron Lorenz, who made his first appearance to Prairie Grains.

“It’s always reinvigorating for me to get in front of farmers and see their interest in our research,” said Lorenz, who spoke on the future of soybean breeding during a breakout session. “They ask great questions and make sure we’re focusing on the right issues.”

Lorenz joined other checkoff-funded researchers during MSR&PC’s Soy Reporting Session, which was emceed by Folland and attended by approximately 50 farmers and agriculture professionals.

Kittson County farmer Kris Folland serves as emcee during the Council’s Soybean Research Reporting Session Dec. 14 during the Prairie Grains Conference. Folland is planning to retire from the Council this summer.

“It’s been rewarding to see the interest in our research projects continuing to expand in this region,” MSR&PC Director of Research David Kee said.

The Council also hosted a booth on the trade show floor, where Council Director Ben Storm and CEO Tom Slunecka showcased soy checkoff investments through the lens of augmented reality and future farmers Paul and Sandy.

Following MSGA’s quarterly board meeting in Mankato, President Bob Worth traveled to Grand Forks to visit with MSGA’s northern membership base. He returned to Prairie Grains Conference for the first time in more than 15 years, when Worth first served as MSGA president.

“This conference has certainly grown in that time, just as soybean production has expanded in northwest Minnesota,” Worth said.

While legislative policy isn’t at the forefront of Prairie Grains’ agenda, leaders from various commodity groups attended and visited with Worth and MSGA lobbyist Cory Bennett to discuss the 2024 legislative session. Directors Mike Skaug and Corey Hanson also attended.

“It’s very constructive for both Cory and me to come up here and have conversations with our members and colleagues about the issues we’re working on in St. Paul and D.C.,”Worth said.

On Wednesday, both MSGA and MSR&PC held a joint meeting with researchers and county directors from across the region to deliver checkoff updates and inform members of the legislative lay of the land in St. Paul before the session begins on Feb. 12.

“The Council continues working hard to add value to farmers’ bottom lines,” Council Director Ben Storm told the packed room.

During Thursday’s keynote session, John Griffith, CHS executive vice president for ag business and CHS Hedging, delivered a global ag market update and said there’s room for soybeans to make an impact in the growing sustainable aviation fuel industry.

“The world still needs soybeans,” he said. “That market isn’t going away.”

The Council and MSGA now turn their attention to the next trade show on the horizon: MN Ag Expo returns to Mankato Jan. 17-18.

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