From farm to frontline, the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC) is taking another giant leap forward to highlight environmentally friendly investments from the soybean checkoff. Rock County, in partnership with MSR&PC, which directs the state’s soybean checkoff resources, is launching the Stepping Up campaign to amplify farmer profitability and promote the value-added uses of the “miracle bean” while making community connections.
Coming on the heels of the successful Driving Soy promotion, Minnesota counties have laced up to promote renewable, value-added soy products and give back to frontline health care workers in their communities. Since the Stepping Up campaign began in 2022, more than 50 counties across the state have participated in the campaign, donating more than 3,000 pairs of shoes.
“We are so glad make this donation of soy-based Skechers shoes to the Good Samaritan Society of Luverne staff,” Rock County Corn and Soybean Growers board member Lucas Peters said. “With this donation, we were able to give them a well-deserved thank you for what they do for our community.”
As part of the Stepping Up promotional effort, Rock County donated 50 pairs of Skechers soy-based GO shoes to the Good Samaritan location in Luverne.
“The staff were very appreciative of the donation,” Good Samaritan Luverne Mary Jane Brown Administrator Kiona Rogers said. “It was a great mood booster and safety wise we have a lot of staff who have worn out their shoes and these are good quality. They were excited and it is very appreciated. We’re grateful to have the Rock County Corn and Soybean Growers be so involved in the local organization.”
The statewide effort strives to inform both farming and non-farming public on soy’s environmental advantages and the myriad uses of soybean oil. County leaders also want to show their appreciation to health care workers in their community.
“We know how much health care workers sacrifice for others in communities throughout Minnesota, especially in the past couple of years. I’ve seen it firsthand,” said Council Chair Joe Serbus, whose wife, Doreen, has worked in health care for more than 40 years. “This campaign is an investment in both value-added soybean products and in the selfless health care professionals who keep us safe and healthy.”
A step above the rest
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.
Kurt Stockbridge, Skechers vice president of Product Development and Innovation, said the company and the soybean checkoff are stepping up to create a superior shoe and reduce their environmental footprints.
“Discovering ways to make product more sustainable is top of mind for Skechers,” Stockbridge said. “Though we were aware of the sustainable qualities of soybean oil, we were surprised to learn what the oil could do to improve our outsole rubber performance.”
For each dollar, Rock County soybean farmers pay toward checkoff resources, growers receive an estimated $12.33 in return value. Today, more than 1,000 commercially available products – ranging from shoes to machinery lubricants to asphalt – use commodity and high oleic soybean oil.
“Once that soybean hits the mill, it’s local, it’s national – it’s everywhere,” said Belinda Burrier, a United Soybean Director who helped oversee the partnership with Skechers. “The money farmers make back on the checkoff is fantastic.”