Minnesota Soybean Business

The next 60 years: A message from MSGA Executive Director Joe Smentek

September-October 2022

This month, the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association celebrates 60 years of advocacy on behalf of our state’s soybean farmers.

In the last edition of Soybean Business, we highlighted the storied history of the organization from our humble beginnings back in Sleepy Eye. The article and timeline highlighted the successes of the organization, and the list is long.

The power and effectiveness of this organization is widely recognized. In fact, at this year’s Farmfest, Gov. Walz issued an official proclamation declaring Sept. 24, 2022, “Minnesota Soybean Growers Association Day.”

What an honor! We are truly standing on the shoulders of giants, from founding father John W. Evans to our most recent president, Mike Skaug. This proclamation is a testament to their vision and tireless efforts.

Joe Smentek has served as MSGA executive director since 2018.

This is not at all suggesting that we’ll be resting on our laurels. The work continues. MSGA has grown and evolved over the first 60 years, and as we enter the next 60 years, we are in excellent shape to continue to be a unified voice for Minnesota’s soybean farmers.

As you’ll read in this issue’s cover profile, we have an ideal combination of established directors, like current President Bob Worth, and a deep roster of emerging leaders, including Ryan Mackenthun and Rose Wendinger, among many others.

The issues and challenges that influenced the creation of MSGA are not the same issues facing farmers today. Recently, I had the chance to travel with the American Soybean Association (ASA) to Alaska to learn about the issues that will arise as a result of climate change and a melting Arctic. We are active in discussions on many state and federal issues: crafting the next Farm Bill, carbon markets, sustainable aviation fuel, renewable hydrocarbon diesel, loss of farmland to solar farms, increased input costs, supply chain issues – and more.

MSGA is well positioned to tackle these new challenges. Our board of directors is engaged and involved in many different organizations tackling these policies. Our Governing Board gathers frequently and gives MSGA the freedom to make decisions quickly on issues that face tight timelines.

Comment periods and lawsuit timelines will not wait until our next full board meeting, and thanks to the Governing Board we are hitting these deadlines more efficiently than ever. MSGA is also well-represented at the federal level with seven directors on the ASA board, led by George Goblish, who serves on the ASA Governing Board.

MSGA’s bipartisan approach allows us to work closely with all legislators and regulators; we’re not getting bogged down in political back and forth on policies that do not focus on soybeans and farming. At the same time, we are not afraid to speak out and stand up against a legislator or regulator when the interests of

Minnesota’s soybean farmers are negatively affected. It is often said that the best indicator of future performance is past success. In MSGA’s case, based on this measure, the next 60 years looks to be in great shape. I am humbled and honored to be in my position and look forward to beginning the work on a success story for MSGA for the next 60 years.

Joe Smentek serves as Executive Director of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association. Follow him on Twitter at @CapitolSoy.


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