Next steps: Dakota-Rice soybean farmers continue walking the walk

After the successful Stepping Up and Driving Soy campaigns completed their first laps, the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC) was left with big shoes to fill. The Council decided the best way to take the next steps and make a bigger impact on communities and educating of the “miracle bean” was to dedicate more checkoff funds to the campaign, but with a twist.

This year, Stepping Up is dedicated toward giving back to any organization or entity in Minnesota where the local county boards see a need. Minnesota’s organized county soybean boards are donating to schools, homeless shelters, fire departments, students in need and organizations that make impacts in their communities.  

Dakota-Rice County, in partnership with MSR&PC, which directs the state’s soybean checkoff resources, continues the Stepping Up and Driving Soy campaigns to promote the value-added uses of soybeans and make community connections.

All Randolph-Hampton and Nerstand firefighters received pairs of soy-based shoes, donated by the Dakota-Rice County Corn & Soybean Growers Association. Additionally, the group donated another set of Goodyear’s soy-based tires to the Rice County Sheriff’s Department.

Dakota-Rice County soybean farmers thank the Randolph-Hampton Fire Department by donating free pairs of soy-based shoes.

“We are happy to support our local volunteer firemen and firewomen,” said Matt Braun, a director with Dakota-Rice County Corn & Soybean Growers Association. “It’s great to teach others about soybeans.”

The continuation of the Stepping Up and Driving Soy promotions aims to inform more consumers on the value that soybeans bring to the market as well as how versatile the crop is. Minnesota farmers also want to honor groups in their communities that are making a difference, and the Rice County Sheriff’s Department is grateful for the gesture.

“Thank you for the tires again,” said farmer and Rice County Sheriff’s Deputy Derek Estrem, who received the first set of tires in 2021 and volunteered to take the second set of tires in 2023 because of their superior performance. “The donation helps us use other funds to put towards the community.”

Since the initial donation in 2021, the Rice County Sheriff’s Department has switched over their entire fleet of vehicles to use all Goodyear soy-based tires.

In summer 2022, more than 53 counties around Minnesota participated in the first Stepping Up campaign. In 2022 alone, Minnesota farmers and the soybean checkoff donated nearly 3,000 pairs of Skechers soy-based shoes across 120 Minnesota health care facilities.

In last year’s Stepping Up campaign, over 100 pairs of soy-based shoes were sent to frontline health care workers in the Rice-Dakota area. Forty pairs went to the Benedictine Living Community, 15 to Faribault Senior Living, 25 to Senior Living at Steeple Center and 25 to Southview Acres Health Care Center.

“The Council is proud to continue the Stepping Up promotion and give back to those who serve our communities,” Council Chair Tom Frisch said. “It’s a win-win for our county boards because we’re able to connect with our neighbors while also showing the value of the soybean checkoff.”


In 2020, Skechers released its GO line of footwear, which uses soybean oil to improve grip, stability and durability. Skechers is using the same checkoff-supported technology featured in Goodyear Tire Company’s line of sustainable soy-based tires, which incorporated soy into its rubber technology.

By using soybean oil in Skechers’ GO line, Goodyear’s tire compound reduces petroleum-based use, ultimately cutting energy consumption, weight and promoting sustainability while increasing efficiency. 

For each dollar soybean farmers from Rice and Dakota counties pay toward checkoff resources, growers receive an estimated $12.34 in return value. More than 1,000 commercially available products – ranging from shoes to machinery lubricants to asphalt – use commodity and high oleic soybean oil.

Learn more on Stepping Up by visiting mnsoybean.org/stepping-up.

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