Minnesota Soybean Business

A ‘towering’ leader: A tribute to Craig Weir

May-June 2022

The Minnesota Soybean Growers Association mourned the passing of a “larger than life” leader in March 2022 when former President Craig Weir died of cancer at the age of 70.

“He was everything you wanted in an advocate for soybeans,” said former Minnesota Soybean Executive Director Jim Palmer. “Craig was very involved, very constructive and very personable.”

Palmer said Weir, who stood well over six feet tall and always sported a full beard, might’ve looked imposing but remained good-natured and kindhearted. He could tease others without being derogatory.

“He towered over me but he was never intimidating,” Palmer said, “and he always had that beard. He might’ve been born with it.”

Weir was born and raised on the family farm in Delavan, where he grew corn and soybeans. In 1986, Weir replaced Jerry Greenslit as MSGA president and served a two-year term. Palmer recalled Weir taking proactive stances on several key policy issues. At the time, then-Minnesota Attorney General Skip Humphrey proposed a moratorium on livestock production in the state. Considering more than 95% of soybean meal is used to feed livestock, Humphrey’s plan went off like a lead balloon in farm country.

Craig Weir was a lifelong farmer from Faribault County

“Craig took a strong lead on that position and that was just one of the impressive things he did that made a difference,” Palmer said.

The moratorium never gathered momentum and died on the vine – thanks, in large part, to MSGA’s efforts.

“With advocating, it isn’t always what you make happen,” Palmer said. “It’s what you prevent from happening and that was Craig’s first big success.”

In 1987, through Weir’s leadership, MSGA was the first commodity group to help start the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI) through the Greater Minnesota Corporation. Thirty-five years later, AURI continues developing value-added soybean products, boosting the bottom lines of the state’s soybean farmers.

“Craig took a strong involvement (in forming AURI) and was very supportive of it,” said Palmer, who retired from MSGA in 2012. “He understood that legislative success isn’t always home runs – sometimes it’s base hits.”

During Weir’s presidency, MSGA hired its first lobbying team. After his presidency ended in 1988, Weir later served on the American Soybean Association (ASA). In 1990, Weir sat on an ASA Task Force that helped establish priorities for the 1990 Farm Bill.

“Craig was a good booster for soybeans and he really dedicated his time,” said Gary Joachim, who presided over MSGA from 1997 to 1999. “He was a good person in the history of MSGA.”

Weir was a man of many talents: He flew planes and volunteered as a firefighter; loved hunting, fishing and sports, and was a jack of all trades on the family farm. He is survived by his wife of nearly 50 years, Tonia, and sons, Spencer (Shelly) Weir of Delavan and Jordan (Ami) Weir of Delavan; along with three granddaughters and two brothers.

“Craig’s heart was in the right place,” Palmer said. “He promoted what he believed in and was the consummate farmer-leader. MSGA was lucky to have his engagement.”


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