Minnesota Soybean Business

Letter from the Executive Director: A steady voice in the dark.

One of the biggest misconceptions I hear in my position as executive director of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association is that farmers have a relatively simple life. The common refrain is that the only thing they have to worry about is the weather. Nothing could be further from the truth. Market variability, local politics, events in D.C., international relations – the list goes on. It’s hard to find an issue that doesn’t make it down to the farm. In no way shape or form is the life of a soybean farmer easy or carefree.

Ten years ago, the creation of Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategies was sending ripples of fear around the countryside. The increased number of rural school districts relying on new buildings with high tax burdens on farmland was putting pressure on farmland owners. A few years later, we were looking at a new definition in the Clean Water Act that could expand government jurisdiction. That was quickly followed by an international trade war, a global pandemic and lawsuits involving critical crop inputs. In that time span, we saw all kinds of weather events.

Then throw in electric vehicles, pressure on animal ag, new animal diseases, imports of used cooking oil…the hits just keep coming.

Throughout it all, there has been one constant voice advocating for the state’s soybean farmers: The grower leaders of MSGA continue to be a strong voice for the state’s farmers. We’re testifying before committees in St. Paul, meeting with officials in D.C. and even traveling internationally to build relationships; our MSGA directors are constantly working for Minnesota’s soybean farmers. Whether we’re letting legislators know how we responsibly use the crop production inputs on our fields, how biofuels add value to our crops and strengthen our rural economies, or how critical international markets are – our directors tirelessly advocate for Minnesota soybean farmers.

But like any hard work, we can’t do it alone. When the state of Minnesota is putting out reports saying that increased precipitation added over 40,000 acres of wetlands in Minnesota (but at the same time, the same agency blames tile and not increased precipitation for river flow), our state checkoff is there to fund professional, nonbiased research and opinions to set the record straight and refute these hypocritical positions.

When electric car advocates are cherrypicking data and warping statistics to try to villainize soy oil, our checkoff is there to correct the record and get the actual data published that shows how farmers are and have been cutting carbon for decades. MSGA works with our fellow ag groups as well: Minnesota Corn, Minnesota Wheat, Farm Bureau, Farmers Union, etc. We are blessed in Minnesota to have a variety of groups that work on issues impacting our state’s farmers. But by far the most important partner we have is you, our members. Without members, there is no grassroots advocacy. Without your investment in our organization, there are no resources for advocacy in St. Paul or in Washington, D.C.

Without you, there is no board, there is no officer team; there is no MSGA.

I am proud to serve in the role of executive director for MSGA. Having an up-close look at the dedication of my board to their fellow farmers is impressive. Seeing them sacrifice their own time, money and effort to work for everyone in the state is humbling. The responsibility of carrying on and facilitating that steady voice in the darkness for Minnesota’s soybean farmers is not one I take lightly. It is reassuring to know we are not alone; we have many other ag groups with us. However, we still only have about 10% of our state’s soybean farmers as active members. Please join us, let us know through the resolutions process what is happening on your farm and where our efforts can help our state’s soybean farmers. Without you, our voice is directionless, and a lot less effective.

This summer, let the light shine in. Join MSGA!

-Joe Smentek, MSGA Executive Director


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