Minnesota Soybean Business

Laying down the law: MSGA uses court system to advocate

March-April 2023

MSGA has had a proactive, constant presence in legislative and regulatory arenas since its creation 61 years ago. Our farmer-leaders have led the charge on passing legislation to help farmers, along with stopping legislation that would harm their operations.

MSGA also makes sure the voice of Minnesota’s 27,000 soybean farmers is heard during rulemaking processes.

Unfortunately, the Minnesota Administrative Procedures Act and the Federal Administrative Procedures Act stack the deck heavily in the regulatory agencies’ favor. This means many times, even though there are legitimate concerns raised by MSGA, farmers’ concerns are minimized and ignored by regulatory agencies. Once a regulatory agency denies a contested case hearing and essentially rules in its own favor, options are severely limited as to what can be done. In most cases, the only option is to sue the agency in court.


MSGA’s advocacy efforts are funded largely in part by our members and industry supporters. In accordance with the Soybean Act and Order that created the federal soybean checkoff, zero checkoff dollars can be used to influence units of government. As anyone with a passing knowledge of TV law dramas knows, lawsuits are expensive and drawn out. While MSGA has been making strategic investments trying to build a bank account to fund court activities, our budget falls far short of being able to enter lawsuits challenging agency action.

Joe Smentek is executive director of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association and an environmental attorney. He can be reached at jsmentek@mnsoybean.com.

Fortunately, MSGA has found some key partners willing to help us challenge actions of regulatory agencies in the past year. MSGA joined with Gharda Chemicals, the American Soybean Growers Association, U.S. Sugarbeet Association and a collection of state sugarbeet and soybean associations to challenge EPA’s actions against the use of chlorpyrifos. This action is moving its way through the necessary procedures under the Federal Administrative Procedures Act. We are arguing that EPA’s actions completely eliminating tolerances for chlorpyrifos go against EPA’s own scientific findings that there are safe uses for the chemistry.

Locking arms

MSGA also found partners with much deeper pockets to challenge the EPA’s actions on tailpipe emissions on vehicles. In suits challenging the tailpipe emission standards for light duty and heavy duty vehicles, we joined other liquid fuel companies in arguing that the standards improperly force companies to incorporate electric vehicles into their car lines in order to meet these standards and that the rules laid out frustrate the purpose of federal statutes such as the Renewable Fuel Standard. These same partners are helping MSGA join litigation that challenges the reinstatement of the California waiver under the Clean Air Act.

Finally, MSGA is working with other groups to challenge rules passed by the MPCA in state that force adoption of electric cars. Recent Supreme Court cases cast doubt on the validity of these rules, and we will be working to make sure the proper precedents are followed.

Thankfully, in these cases we found partners with substantial financial resources. That will not always be the case. As more and more advocating takes place in the state and federal courts, membership in MSGA matters more than ever to make sure we stand up and speak out for soy farmers wherever we need to secure more policy and regulatory wins.


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