Minnesota Soybean Business

Bean ballot box: MN farmers seek Council seats

March-April 2024

The Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC) is holding its annual election this spring. For the past few months, the Council has been seeking candidates to fill five seats. Longtime Directors Jim Willers and Kris Folland are stepping down when their respective terms end this summer.

“It’s an exciting time at the Council, as we bid farewell to two strong directors who left a big impact on our organization,” Council Vice Chair Gail Donkers said. “At the same time, we’re excited to welcome Jim and Kris’ replacements on the Council as we look toward 2025 and beyond.”

MSR&PC directors serve three-year terms, beginning July 1. The 15 elected farmers wisely direct the investments of soybean checkoff money into developing new uses for soybeans, expanding markets, researching new production practices and technologies and promoting the diverse uses of soybeans – all with an eye on improving profitability for Minnesota’s nearly 28,000 soybean farmers.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture, which oversees the election, will mail ballots by March 15 to farmers who have voted in past MSR&PC elections or who requested a ballot. Ballots are due back to MDA by April 1. No ballots will be accepted postmarked after April 1.

But first things first, let’s get to know the candidates running for the Council seats up for election.

District 1, 2 & 3

Corey Hanson, Gary, Minn., Norman County

Corey grows soybeans, corn and alfalfa on a cow/calf operation. He is a current director with the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA) and serves as president of the Norman County Corn & Soybean Growers Board.

Corey Hanson farms in Norman County and is running to replace Kris Folland on MSR&PC.

On the Council, Corey says:

I want to help Minnesota farmers understand how soy checkoff dollars work to benefit our state’s farmers, along with showing the differences between MSGA and MSR&PC. It’s very important that the checkoff stays out of the legislative arena, and as a longtime MSGA advocate and county-level president, I have a firm grasp of when and how the checkoff and policy worlds can (and cannot) work together. I’ve been proud to represent Norman County on MSGA and it would be a privilege to represent farmers in my district, along with the entire state, in directing these valuable soy checkoff funds toward increasing profitability, opening new markets, developing value-added uses and addressing production challenges affecting producers across the state.

District 4

Paul Freeman, Fergus Falls, Minn., Pope County

Paul grows soybeans, corn and wheat. He’s a former director and past president with MSGA. He’s also a member of Sacred Heart Church and Knights of Columbus; the Upper Mississippi Waterway Association (past chair); and is the Council’s representative on the Agriculture Research, Education, Extension and Technology Transfer (AGREET) Oversight Board. Paul is enrolled in the Minnesota Agriculture Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP) and previously represented MSGA on the MAWQCP Advisory Board.

Paul Freeman is running for a second term on MSR&PC.

On the Council, Paul says:

The past three years I’ve had the pleasure to serve on MSR&PC and it has been very gratifying to see and understand the wide range of benefits this wise investment brings to Minnesota soybean farmers. In my small corner of the world, I’ve tried to be an early adopter of new concepts and technologies; solid research gives farmers the path to move forward. By adopting and promoting new concepts and technologies, change can be seen throughout the world. As in any venture, return on investment must be considered. In my short time on the Council, I’ve witnessed the progress and can see the many ways that one half of one percent we pay into the checkoff returns many times in value to the producer, thanks in part to the Council’s investments. I would like to continue to guide the Council for my peers on Minnesota farms.

District 7

Joel Schreurs Tyler, Minn., Lincoln County

Joel raises soybeans, corn and alfalfa with his daughter and son-in-law.A longtime farmer leader, he serves on numerous agriculture boards, including the Lincoln County Corn and Soybean Growers Association,MSGA, the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) and recently termed off the American Soybean Association after nine years of advocacy. Joel is also a past vice chair of the Soy Transportation Coalition.

Tyler farmer Joel Schreurs is running to replace Jim Willers on MSR&PC.

On the Council, Joel says:

I have been a longtime advocate of the soybean industry and agriculture. I’ve served on my county board for 15 years and MSGA for 14 years and four years on USSEC. I have a lot of experience in the soybean industry. I have the time it takes to be a good contributing member of the board. I have a very large network of relationships that I have built in the soybean industry that I can draw from.

The soybean industry is quite complex, and it would be very difficult to be an expert on every issue. With that being said, my background has been in export markets and trade policy in both state and national governments. In this new role within the checkoff, I believe my extensive background will be an asset to the Council and my fellow soybean farmers. With the help of the other board members on MSR&PC, I believe we can invest your checkoff dollars wisely.

District 8

Cole Trebesch, Springfield, Minn., Brown County 

On the Council, Cole says:

Cole Trebesch is a past MS&PC chair.

It has been an honor to serve on the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council for the past several years, and I would appreciate the opportunity to continue with another term. I believe that the collaboration between MSR&PC and MSGA makes this one of the leading ag organizations in the state, and it is a fun organization to be a part of. We have successfully faced many challenges in the past and will continue to do so into the future. Minnesota Soybean works hard to help all soybean farmers through investing in research to improve yield, quality and environmental issues, as well as working on improving markets at home and around the world. I would be honored to continue to serve on the board of directors and help direct checkoff investments.

District 8

Scott Schoper Cottonwood County

Scott lives in Kasota but raises soybeans and corn in Cottonwood County. He is a member of MSGA, the Minnesota Crop Production Retailers, graduated from the Minnesota Agricultural & Rural Leadership (MARL) program and has served on the Nicollet Conservation Club since 2013.

On the Council, Scott says:

Scott Schoper farms in Cottonwood County.

The soybean market is a world market. We need to be able to identify new markets and opportunities for our growers. I would appreciate the opportunity to be a part of this board to help share what the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council stands for and does to help farmers. I have been impressed with what they have accomplished and the great events they support.

Being a member of MARL Class XII, I have learned it is vital for these organizations to promote soybeans and soybean growers from this great state creating new and exciting opportunities, along with educating those about what a great crop soybeans are and what all they can be used for. With the list of great accomplishments already, I can’t wait to see what the future has in store!

District 9

Ben Storm, Dover, Minn., Olmsted County

Ben raises soybeans, corn, oats and hogs on his family farm. He is a member of Minnesota Farm Bureau, MCGA, MSGA, St. Matthews Church and the Compeer Financial Nominating Committee and serves as chair of the Olmsted-Wabasha Corn and Soybean Growers Association. Ben is also enrolled in the MAWQCP.

Ben Storm is running for reelection as the Council’s District 9 representative.”

On the Council, Ben says:

I have been serving on the Council now for two terms, I am seeking reelection for a third term. I would like to continue to serve on the research and promotion board because in my time on the Council, we have started some exciting projects and I would like to see them through. It has been a great learning experience, and I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to continue to serve Minnesota’s soybean growers in the proper use of their checkoff dollars.



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