Stepping Up: Kittson County farmers walking with the walk with soy-based shoe donation

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. Kittson County Soybean Growers, in partnership with MSR&PC – which directs the state’s soybean checkoff resources – have launched 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 are lacing up to promote renewable, value-added soy products and give back to frontline health care workers in their counties.

“We are proud to present these shoes as saying thank you to our medical people for all their hard work during these stressful times. It makes me proud to contribute to Minnesota’s soybean checkoff investments,” Board President Chuck Dziengel said. “We want to give a big thank you to Goodyear and Skechers for their collaboration to make this project possible.”

As part of the Stepping Up promotional effort, Kittson County is donating 50 pairs of Skechers soy-based GO shoes to Kittson Health Center in Hallock and Karlstad.

Kittson County Soybean Growers are supporting their community and promoting value-added soybeans through the Stepping Up campaign.

“The shoes are great, and the donation was very generous,” Kittson Health Center Chief Services Officer Adam Maus said. “Our team spends a lot of time on their feet caring for patients and residents and the shoes are not only great for their feet, but the donation was very much appreciated, and it let our team know that their hard work is recognized in the community.”

The Stepping Up campaign runs throughout summer 2022. 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 Kittson 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.”

Follow the Stepping Up social media campaign at #SoySteppingUp and by visiting mnsoybean.org/stepping-up.

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