Stepping Up: MSR&PC walking the walk, from farm to frontline

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. 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 are lacing up to promote renewable, value-added soy products and give back to frontline health care workers in their counties.  

“Each year, our farmer-led board tasks our team with spotlighting checkoff projects – everything from biodiesel to road sealants to tires – in unique ways,” MSR&PC CEO Tom Slunecka said. “These initiatives help inform growers throughout the state on the ways the checkoff continues to add to their bottom line. These investments also help us take a step back from our dependency on petroleum.”  

It’s GO time for the Council. As part of the Stepping Up promotional effort, Minnesota’s 44 county boards (no other state has an organized county soybean program) are eligible to donate up to 50 pairs of Skechers soy-based GO shoes to a local health care facility, including (but not limited to): local hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Shoe-logos-final-01-300x233.png

The Stepping Up campaign runs throughout the summer. The statewide effort strives to inform both farming and non-farming public on soy’s environmental advantages and the myriad uses of soybean oil. 

“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 soybean farmers 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. 

“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.”

The Council is unveiling a new website – mnsoybean.org/stepping-up – to launch the campaign.  

“This campaign really encompasses everything the Council and our county organizations set out to achieve,” Serbus said. “We’ve all experienced some setbacks, but we’re excited to step up and move the checkoff forward.”  

Follow the Stepping Up social media campaign at #SoySteppingUp.

About the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council 
The Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council oversees the investment of checkoff dollars on behalf of the nearly 28,000 soybean farmers in Minnesota. The Council is governed by the rules of a federally mandated checkoff program requiring all soybean producers to pay a fee on the soybeans they sell. This money is used to promote, educate and develop market opportunities for soybeans. 

For more information or to interview an MSR&PC director, contact Drew Lyon at (507) 995-9495 or email him at dlyon@mnsoybean.com. 

Follow The Conversation