Time for true confessions: I cannot claim to have been a lifelong member of MSGA; I’m not even a five-year member. Raised by a plumber and a substitute teacher, I married into farming 16 years ago and brought with me scant understanding of ag – despite living all my life in rural west central Minnesota. I spent the first decade of my marriage trying to figure out how our farm made money (2019 will be full of lessons for me). My role was as a supporting spouse; I raised the babies, carried our family’s health insurance with an off-the-farm job and kept our household running through all the seasons.
Then came a mid-life crisis – and not a fun one with sports cars or expensive plastic surgery. The root pressure was brought-on because of former Gov. Dayton’s outrageous Buffer Law. My husband, Rodd, and I were fired-up and desperate to preserve the ‘right to farm’ for our daughters. We participated in ASA’s Young Leader Program, where I learned how our commodity checkoff programs are organized, and discovered with enthusiasm the separate existence of MSGA, a membership-funded, farmer-led advocacy group. Like a toddler with an iPad, I was hooked and became an MSGA board director in 2015.
What I know now that I didn’t know in 2015 is that MSGA successfully blocked a provision that would have required 16.5’ buffers on private ditches – saving the average Minnesota farmer at least $400 annually in lost revenue for each side of a half mile of private ditch. We rely heavily on private and public ditches. What would the cost have been for our farm? The cost literally would have been our farming operation.
My farming skills have already been outpaced by my 12 and 13-year old daughters. I will easily be the first of our employees to be replaced by robots. So it is clear that my most important contributions to our farm happen in government offices and meetings where I spend time working through state agency policies that impact agriculture. Serving as your MSGA president, I will give extra attention to agency rules and water quality regulations…which may bring me right back to how I got here.
My mid-life crisis may be over, but, alas, the Buffer Law is not. Anti-ag organizations are trending. They are plentiful, politically savvy and well-funded. In contrast, MSGA is funded by dues from just 10 percent of Minnesota’s roughly 28,000 soybean growers. You have heard about our successes: The nation’s only B20 biodiesel mandate, $80 million in property tax relief, $40 million in rural broadband upgrades, etc. Now, imagine what MSGA could do if we collected dues from 25 percent (or more) of our soybean growers! The possibilities are endless.
If you aren’t a member or need to renew your membership, please sign-up. MSGA can’t do this without your support. If life begins at 40, take it from a lifelong member – please join me! www.mnsoybean.org/msga.
President Minnesota Soybean Growers Association