Minnesota Soybean Business

Taking an interest: Meet the Council election candidates

March-April 2023

The Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC) is holding its annual election this spring. For the past several months, the Council has sought candidates to fill five seats spanning the state. 

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 use of soybeans – all with an eye toward improving profitability for Minnesota soybean farmers.

“Serving on the Council is rewarding and an important step in directing where soybean checkoff investments go,” MSR&PC Vice Chair Tom Frisch said. “A larger pool of candidates gives farmers the chance to vote for someone who will give them a voice on checkoff investments.”

Below is a closer look at the candidates running for the Council. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) will mail ballots March 17 to farmers who have voted in past MSR&PC elections or who requested a ballot. Ballots are due back to MDA by Tuesday, April 4. 

No ballots will be accepted postmarked after April 4.

District 1, 2 & 3

Bill Zurn, Callaway, Minn., Becker County

Bill grows soybean, corn, sugarbeets and wheat on his family farm in Callaway. He farms with his wife, Karolyn, and their two sons, Eric and Nicholas. The Zurns have a total of five children and 13 grandchildren, and all have stayed in agriculture.

Bil Zurn farms in Becker County, Minn., and is the Council’s current District 1, 2 & 3 representative.

Bill is the Council’s current District 1, 2 & 3 representative, and was appointed to the United Soybean Board in 2019 before stepping down in 2022. He also serves as president of the Becker Mahnomen Soybean Growers board. He retired from the North Dakota Air Guard after 27 years of service. He’s also a former township supervisor, a director with Lake Park Coop and is a member of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA), Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA), Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers and the Minnesota Association of Wheat Growers. From 2008-2010, Bill served as MSGA president. 

Bill was appointed to serve four on the years on the Minnesota Agriculture Water Quality Certification Program Board and the Zurn Farm is now enrolled in the MAWQCP. Bill is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Crookston’s Northwest School of Agriculture and was recognized for his achievements after graduation.

On the Council says, Bill says: 

I have served 14 years as an MSR&PC director and six years with MSGA. I was appointed to the United Soybean Board and served on the Demand-Infrastructure Team. My status was always active and pushing for the next benefits to the United States soybean growers. I’m currently promoting the development of the Ag Innovation Campus, which will benefit producers in my districts and throughout Minnesota. I want to expand the soybean markets globally by using the research proving U.S.-grown soybeans have the Essential Amino Acids (EAA) that surpass those in other areas in the world. We need to focus on the all-around protein of northern-grown beans to enhance sales. 

I am already helping with these goals by working on committees focusing on biodiesel usage and working with the National Biodiesel Board (now known as the Clean Fuels Alliance America). As a director I will continue to help Minnesota soybean growers reach their goals and showcase U.S. soybeans.

District 4

Patrick O’Leary, Benson, Minn., Swift County

Patrick raises soybeans, corn and swine (contract) grower. He is the Council’s current District 4 representative and served as chair from 2017 to 2019. Patrick also represents MSR&PC on both the United Soybean Board and Northern Soy Marketing. He is a member of MSGA, MCGA and Minnesota Farm Bureau.

MSR&PC Director Patrick O’Leary is the Council’s District 4 director.

On the Council, Patrick says: 

As a farmer, it is important to me that we all take an interest in the continued success of agriculture. The promotion of soybeans and development of markets for our soybeans is extremely important in ensuring the continued success of all farmers. It is also necessary that we research and develop soybeans that will not only lead to better yields and profitability for the farmer, but also increase the quality of soybeans for our markets. The wise investment of our checkoff dollars will ensure that Minnesota and the U.S. remain leaders in the soybean industry, keeping our farmers competitive and successful in the global agriculture economy.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support.

District 5 & 6 

Pat Sullivan, Franklin, Minn., Renville County

Pat currently serves as Council secretary and is the District 5 & 6 representative. He is a member of the Renville County Corn and Soybean Growers and MSGA. He serves on the Franklin Fire Department and is an active member of the Sacred Heart Church Cemetery Board. 

Council Secretary Pat Sullivan farms in Renville County.

On the Council, Pat says: 

I wish to serve on the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council because the Council plays a large role in addressing future challenges such as marketing, weed, pest and disease management, as well as other issues that affect farmers’ bottom lines. Additionally, the Council plays an important part in export markets and opening new markets for our soybeans. As a Council director, I also have an impact on the types of new uses we explore, and ensuring we always look to do impactful work. I believe being involved in the Council is important because of its professional reputation and the ties we have working with farmers. The Council supports and supplies real science and data to address these issues as well as other issues that may arise. 

District 7

Joel Schreurs, Tyler, Minn., Lincoln County

Joel raises soybeans, corn and alfalfa. He serves on numerous agriculture boards, including the Lincoln County Corn and Soybean Growers Association, MSGA, the American Soybean Association, U.S. Soybean Export Council and is past vice chair of the Soy Transportation Coalition. 

Lincoln County farmer Joel Schreurs currently sits on the American Soybean Association board. He’s running for the Council’s District 7 position,.

On the Council, Joel says

I have many years of experience in the soybean industry from serving as a director on county, state, and national boards. With that experience, I hope to work with my fellow directors to utilize and invest your checkoff dollars to the best of my ability. I farm with my daughter, son-in-law and his grandparents which allows me flexibility in my schedule which can be very helpful for a director. You might see that I have served the soybean industry in a variety of roles over the last several years; that is because I care deeply about supporting America’s farmers. I have a particular interest in increasing soybean exports and expanding our market share. I believe I can help advance that goal in this new role. I would appreciate your vote. 

District 7

Ron Obermoller, Brewster, Minn., Nobles County

Ron grows soybeans and corn on his operation. He is the Council’s District 7 representative. He recently retired from the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI) after more than a decade of service. Ron is a member of MSGA, MCGA and serves on the board of the Minnesota Soybean Processors. 

Council Director Ron Obermoller is the former chair of AURI.

On the Council, Ron says:

Representing Minnesota farmers on the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council has been a privilege. I believe in the power of soybean farmers working together through the checkoff program to accomplish research for the benefit of all soybean producers. I make every effort to be available to my fellow producers and respond to them. 

I’m asking for your vote. Balancing your investment between research, promotion and education to get the most out of your checkoff investments will be my goal. 

District 8

Rochelle Krusemark, Sherburn, Minn., Martin County

On their family farm, Krusemark Farms Inc., raise corn, soybeans, cover crops, forage grass, custom finish hogs and have a cow-calf beef herd. Rochelle is a member of MSGA, the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, Minnesota Farm Bureau, Minnesota Cattlewomen, Minnesota Pork Producers and the Martin County Corn and Soybean Growers. She’s also a past director with the United Soybean Board and Soy Nutrition Institute. 

Rochelle Krusemark is the Council’s District 8 representative.

On the Council, Rochelle says: 

Farming today offers a plethora of challenges and bountiful rewards. Increasing demand for soybeans, developing new uses, expanding marketing opportunities and preserving crop protection productions while implementing best management practices are essential factors to balance the equation. 

Our soybean checkoff investments develop market growth by funding research, promoting our products, serving as an information resource and developing new uses for Minnesota soybeans. We must grow the soybean varieties that meet the demands of our consumers and end users; human, animal and industrial uses. We can encourage both current and future scientists and engineers to think, “Soy can do that!” Meeting demand and expanding markets both in the USA and abroad, the soybean checkoff helps ensure a strong and profitable future for U.S. soybean farmers.

As a former school teacher, I yearn to learn and commit the time necessary to prepare for meetings. I passionately promote agricultural literacy and farm commodities within our community, state, across the U.S. and internationally. I listen and observer, exhibit integrity and have earned a reputation as an independent thinker, respectful team member, and effective leader who encourages participation and collaboration. 

Responsible investment of commodity checkoff funds takes time and commitment. I am grateful for a family who realizes thee benefits of “filling in” to complete the tasks during my absence from our family, as well as my time devoted to reading and communication in preparation for meetings. Know that I am approachable and available to listen to your concerns. I would appreciate your support and confidence in me by reelecting m to serve as the Council’s District 8 director. I am confident that my experience in developing strategic plans, resolutions, financial interpretation and planning, and business experience are an asset to MSR&PC.

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 and has been a board member of the Nicollet Conservation Club since fall 2013. 

Minnesota farmer Scott Schoper is seeking a spot on the Council.

On the Council, Scott says: 

I am impressed with what MSR&PC has done in the past. I’m really impressed with the market creation and soybean-based products. I feel there are a lot of opportunities, and I would like opportunity to be a part of it and see where I could help. I just wanted to be more involved with this great organization.


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