Stepping Up: Roseau, Lake of the Woods walking the walk

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. Roseau – Lake of the Woods (LOW) County Soybean Growers, 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 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 a thank you to our frontline workers in Roseau,” Roseau – LOW County Soybean Growers President Andy Pulk said.

As part of the Stepping Up promotional effort, Roseau – LOW is donating 50 pairs of Skechers soy-based GO shoes to Oak Crest Senior Housing and Life Care Medical Center.

Roseau-Lake of the Woods Soybean Growers drop off soy-based Skechers shoes to staff at Life Care.

“Oak Crest Senior Housing would like to thank MSRR&PC for the Skechers shoes that were given to our dedicated staff who have gone the extra mile over the last few years,” Housing & Finance Director Deanne Vatnsdal said.

Keith Okeson, president and CEO of LifeCare, also expressed his gratitude.

“We realize how important agriculture is in Roseau County and bridging it with Health Care was a beneficial experience,” Okeson said. “We are thankful for the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council and their generosity in rewarding some of our employees with Skechers soy-based shoes.”

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. 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 Roseau – LOW 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.

About the Roseau – LOW County Soybean Growers Board  
Roseau – LOW County is affiliated with the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council, a 15-person, farmer-led board that 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. 

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