Soybean Business May-June 2024

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Bruce Schmoll Remembered Willers, Folland Retiring from MSR&PC Uzbekistan Trade Mission MINNESOTA SOYBEAN 1020 INNOVATION LANE, MANKATO, MN MINNESOTA SOYBEAN 1020 INNOVATION LANE, MANKATO, MN INSIDE


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Farmer leader. Advocate. Ace membership recruiter. At the 2024 Commodity Classic, Past MSGA President Theresia Gillie was honored for her volunteer service.

Bruce Schmoll’s friendship circle cast a wide net. Bruce’s friends remember the lifelong farmer, who died in March and grew a legacy of conservation and commitment to agriculture.

Soy supports hundreds of value-added uses, from crayons to fuel to the ink that’s used to print this very magazine. A new checkoff investment is 88% biobased and uses soy flour to create a firefighting foam. Fire, you’ve met your match. P.18

During his first week on the job in March 2019, Eric Wenberg of the Specialty Soya and Grains Alliance helped bring MSGA to the Embassy of Japan. Five years later, SSGA is going strong and leading the global identity preserved movement. P.28

Jim Willers has devoted 25 years of volunteer leadership to Minnesota Soybean. In his exit interview, the outgoing Council directer looks back on his industry’s growth during his tenure.

Nearly two years since their first visit, Minnesota soy checkoff leaders returned to Uzbekistan to take a look at the Council’s investment. Within weeks of the visit, the Council received welcome news.


Read on Page 22

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Tell the compelling stories behind Minnesota’s soybean farmers and their industry,

from the field to Capitol Hill to international markets – and everywhere in between.

Minnesota Soybean Growers Association Officers and ASA Directors: OFFICERS

Bob Worth

President Lake Benton, MN Lincoln County

Darin Johnson Vice President Wells, MN Faribault County

Rose Wendinger Secretary

St. James, MN

Watonwan County

Ryan Mackenthun

Treasurer Brownton, MN McLeod County


Jim Kukowski Strathcona, MN

Roseau-LOW Counties

Jamie Beyer Wheaton, MN Traverse County

George Goblish Vesta, MN Redwood County

Adam Guetter Wabasso, MN Redwood County

Christopher Hill Brewster, MN

Jackson County

Michael Petefish Claremont, MN

Dodge County

Jeff Sorenson Morgan, MN Redwood County


Parker Revier & Gabrielle Carmichael Morton, MN

Renville County


Trevore Brekken Crookston, MN

Polk County

Mark Brown St. James, MN

Watonwan County

Steve Brusven Cottonwood, MN Yellow Medicine County

Chris Bryce Glenwood, MN Pope County

Jason Cadieux Hallock, MN

Kittson County

Brian Fruechte Verdi, MN

Lincoln County

William Gordon Worthington, MN

Nobles County

Tom Grundman Osakis, MN

Douglas County

Corey Hanson Gary, MN

Norman County

Ray Hewitt

Le Sueur, MN

Le Sueur-Scott Counties

Brad Hovel

Cannon Falls, MN

Goodhue County

Jim Jirava

Ogema, MN

Becker-Mahnomen Counties

Kyle Jore

Thief River Falls, MN

Pennington-Red Lake Counties

Mark Knutson

Newfolden, MN

Marshall County

Bob Lindemann Brownton, MN

McLeod County

Paul Mesner Chandler, MN

Murray County

Bruce Nelsen

Rose Creek, MN

Mower County

Keith Nelsen Westbrook, MN Cottonwood County

Robert Nelsen Westbrook, MN

Murray County

Tim Nelson

New Richland, MN

Waseca County

Lucas Peters Luverne, MN

Rock County

Andy Pulk

Wannaska, MN

Roseau-LOW Counties

Matt Purfeerst Faribault, MN

Dakota-Rice Counties

Tim Rasmussen

Rothsay, MN

Otter Tail-Grant Counties

Justin Remus New Ulm, MN

Brown County

Gary Schoenfeld Waseca, MN

Waseca County

Joel Schreurs Tyler, MN

Lincoln County

Mike Skaug Beltrami, MN

Polk County

Cal Spronk Edgerton, MN

Pipestone County

Jamie Seitzer

St Peter, MN

Nicollet-Sibley Counties

Lawrence Sukalski Fairmont, MN

Martin County

Jeremy Tischer Breckenridge, MN

Clay-Wilkin Counties

Doug Toreen

Bird Island, MN

Renville County

Earl Ziegler

Good Thunder, MN

Blue Earth County

MAY - JUNE - 2024 - Soybean Business - 3 MSGA Executive Director Joe Smentek Minnesota Soybean Growers Association 888-896-9678 Art Director Doug Monson Sr. Director of Integrated Marketing Ag Management Solutions 888-896-9678 Managing Editor Drew Lyon Sr. Manager of Communications Ag Management Solutions 888-896-9678 Layout Editors Alex Troska Kaelyn Rahe EDITORIAL STAFF: CIRCULATION: Soybean Business is published six times a year on behalf of Minnesota Soybean. Comments and suggestions can be submitted to: Minnesota Soybean Growers Association, 1020 Innovation Lane Mankato MN 56001 ADVERTISING: Erin Rossow, Sales Manager 507-902-9191 | Advertising space reservations can be made by the 15th day of the month prior to publication. In consideration of the acceptance of the advertisement, the agency and the advertiser must, in respect of the contents of the advertisement, indemnify and save the publisher harmless against any expense arising from claims or actions against the publisher because of the publication of the content of the advertisement. Advertisements within this publication contain the opinions and information of the advertisers and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of the Minnesota Soybean organizations or affiliated groups.

Letter from the President

Worth every moment

Spring is here, which means it’s a time of hope and renewal as our farming community starts a new planting season. For this Lake Benton farmer, so begins my 54th growing season. What a privilege it is to work the land alongside my son, Jon, to plant this year’s crop.

Serving as MSGA president over the past two years has been a privilege to say the least. These two years have flown by in the blink of an eye – one minute I’m walking Capitol Hill with my fellow directors, the next I’m hosting a U.S. senator and congresswoman on my farm. Then I wake up (with jet leg) on the other side of the world and I’m touring Australia’s agriculture industry with Gov. Tim Walz.

Friends, it’s been a whirlwind and team effort every step along the way.

One of my favorite parts about my second term as MSGA president has been collaborating with our partners at the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC). Both MSR&PC and MSGA know where we can (and cannot) overlap, and together we’ve built a welloiled machine. MSGA can’t thank the Council enough for their support of Soybean Business. In this issue, you’ll learn more about all the innovative ways our soy checkoff is improving farmer profitability, through investments in soy-based firefighting foam and growing new markets in Uzbekistan.

I want to thank the entire team at MSGA, from our executive leadership to our administrative team, for making my second run as president one of the greatest thrills of my leadership career. Joe Smentek has been executive director since 2018 and works tirelessly to take our advocacy efforts to the next level. During my first MSGA presidency in 2005-2007, I never could’ve imagined MSGA would be as involved and engaged as we are in the 2020s – and not just in the legislative realm, but in the court system as well.

Behind the scenes, Director of Administration Melinda Roberts does a fantastic job running our operations efficiently. Soybean Business Managing Editor Drew Lyon also deserves kudos for helping to oversee this award-winning magazine and delivering MSGA’s messaging with precision. Drew would rather stay out of the spotlight, but as president, I ordered him to not remove this section from my final President’s Letter. I also applaud Membership Manager Jodie Arndt for

growing our membership base and brainstorming creative promotions to keep members involved. If you’re not a member of MSGA, do this outgoing president a favor and join today. Jodie has you covered!

MSGA appreciates that family comes first. I must thank my family and my wife and partner of more than 50 years, Gail Worth, for holding down the fort during my extensive traveling throughout my years of service to MSGA. As you’ll read in this issue’s tribute to our friend Bruce Schmoll, farmer leadership is rewarding, but it also means valuable time away from our loved ones and farms. We must never lose sight that advocacy requires sacrifices from the entire family.

I step down as president with my head held high because I know all the pieces are in place for MSGA to thrive for years to come. It’s fitting that my final board meeting as president takes place in June at our new headquarters in Mankato. Our officer team is also primed to bring this organization into the future, and I can’t wait to bear witness to the progress we’ll make in St. Paul and Washington, D.C., under the next president’s leadership. I’m old enough to be a father (and possibly grandfather) to my fellow officers but am humbled to call them friends and colleagues. They’ve kept this older farmer feeling young at heart.

Of course, this isn’t a goodbye but merely a transition to a new role. I look forward to remaining a MSGA director and stand at the ready to assist and mentor in any way I can. Thank you all for placing your confidence in me to serve as MSGA president.

I hope I made MSGA proud.


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Location: Perham Lakeside Golf Course 2727 450th St, Perham, MN 56573

Cost: $130 per golfer/$500 4-person team

Registration Deadline: Friday, May 31

11 a.m. Registration

12 p.m. Shotgun start

5 p.m. Dinner

Contact Erin Rossow at for sponsorship questions.  Contact Todd Ginter at for event questions. All proceeds from this event benefit the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association and their advocacy efforts. MSGA is a farmer-led advocacy organization that works on behalf of the interests of Minnesota’s 27,000 soybean farmers in St. Paul and D.C. In short, MSGA keeps soybean farmers farming – now and for generations to come. Register online here


Past MSGA president earns national recognition

Theresia Gillie couldn’t believe the good news when she received a call from the president of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA) in late 2023.

“It came out of the blue,” Gillie recalled.

President Bob Worth wasn’t ringing to bend Gillie’s ear about the latest policy news from St. Paul, or to talk about the weather in Gillie’s hometown of Hallock.

Instead, Worth wanted to be the first to inform Gillie that she was going to be honored with the American Soybean Association’s (ASA) prestigious Outstanding State Volunteer Award.

“It’s such an honor,” Gillie said prior to ASA’s banquet in Houston during Commodity Classic. “I look around this room and see so many volunteers who are just as passionate and deserving of this award.”

The Outstanding Volunteer Award recognizes the dedication and exemplary contributions of volunteers with at least three years of volunteer service in any area of their state association’s operation. Gillie certainly met the criteria. The Kittson County farmer is a longtime member and former president of MSGA, serving more than 15 years as director. She has also participated in numerous fundraising events for the organization and became one of MSGA’s most successful and passionate membership recruiters.

“It was such a thrill to share this wonderful news with Theresia,” said Worth, who received the same ASA award in 2022. “It’s a big deal to be recognized by your peers at the national level, and very humbling.”

Gillie, who retired from MSGA in 2023, is well versed in policy issues that affect soybean producers and the industry. She led visits with legislators in St. Paul, Minnesota and Washington, D.C., in addition to

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Advocate Profile


At 5:45 a.m. on a windy February morning, I joined 21 other ag students from South Dakota State University to embark on the 17-hour drive to Commodity Classic in Houston.

Commodity Classic is a fiveday summit between industry professionals, agricultural representatives and hundreds of farmers from across the nation. The days are filled with educational sessions featuring research farms, introductions of cutting-edge technologies, yield record holders, legislators and many others. The crown of the event is a trade show featuring over 3,000 booths. As I attended meetings and spoke with industry reps, I began to get a picture of how many lives American agriculture impacts. I had the opportunity to speak with farmers who had traveled hundreds of miles to attend this event and began to see how interconnected the agricultural world is. It was an amazing opportunity to meet the men and women who make up the American agricultural machine; men and women filled with a certain pride, united by the mission to feed a growing world while combating urban expansion, government regulation and weather patterns that never seem to have record yields in mind.

Farmers see these challenges as opportunities to adapt and overcome. No matter which state they traveled from or the number of acres or heads of livestock they managed, every farmer was connected by the same pride in their eyes when they talked about their farm back home. Whether 10th generation or first, America’s farmers accept every kind of challenge and risk because they are not driven by certainty, but by a genuine passion and love for what they do.

Unfortunately, most Americans are removed from food production and uneducated about the agricultural cornerstone of this nation.

Uninformed media, politicians who are disconnected from the farm and constant lawsuits pose an ongoing threat to agriculture. Agricultural freedom is a hard-earned privilege. Advocacy groups like the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA) work to combat the looming threat of overregulation. They provide representation in their state and national capitals to keep excessive regulation from bankrupting families and work tirelessly to ensure demand for American agricultural products remains high across the nation and the world.

Commodity Classic allowed me to meet with representatives from MSGA and the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC) to get to know the names

and faces of the people fighting for the future of agriculture. Their dedication to the future was evident, as our trip was made possible by generous support from Minnesota’s soybean checkoff. The checkoff program allocates one-half of one percent of the revenue generated by every bushel of soybeans. Those funds are then invested by state and national soybean boards toward research, developing new markets, building leaders and creating valueadded uses. The checkoff investment and dedication from MSR&PC help ensure that agricultural students like me can graduate into a healthy industry rich with opportunity.

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The Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council joined South Dakota Soybean in investing checkoff resources in sponsoring 22 SDSU students to attend the 2024 Commodity Classic. Jordan Linscheid is a freshman precision agriculture major at South Dakota State University. He was raised on a southwest Minnesota row crop farm and plans on returning to the farm after graduation. This is his first contribution to Soybean Business.
Checkoff Sponsorships
SDSU student recounts Commodity Classic visit

‘Good people’: MAWQCP’s Area Certification Specialists assist growers

Grant Pearson has helped producers enroll in the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP) since the very beginning. He joined the staff of the Stearns County Soil & Water Conservation District in June 2015, just one month prior to MAWQCP’s statewide roll out, and has served as an MAWQCP Area Certification Specialist (ACS) in west-Central Minnesota ever since.

“Early on, it was a bit of a struggle to get growers certified,” Pearson says, “but now it’s gotten to the point where word has gotten around, and farmers know that we’re on the side of the producer.”

Pearson remembers speaking with growers throughout his district to highlight the program’s benefits. One of those farmers who bought into the program’s mission from the outset was Paul Freeman, who farms in Starbuck and is a director with the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council.

“Paul is so passionate about keeping the soil in place,” Pearson says. “He maximizes his dollars to make sure every dollar he spends on nutrients is utilized. It’s amazing to go out to some of his fields and see how well the soil holds.”

When a producer volunteers to become MAWQCP certified, they’re connected with an ACS who helps guide them through the enrollment stages. The ACS will gather information on the operation and begin an evaluation. In total, MAWQCP supports eight ACS across the state, in addition to a team certifying agents. Working with Pearson field-by-field led to a smooth, quick enrollment process for Freeman.

“Grant’s a common-sense type of guy. He was very good to work with,” Freeman says. “I encourage farmers to open that door to their (SWCDs) and check it out, because the program

quantifies the good things we’re already doing out there.”

The assessment tool the specialists follow usually involves evaluating:

• Physical field characteristics

• Nutrient management factors

• Tillage management factors

• Pest management practices

• Irrigation and tile drainage management

• Conservation practices

Since the voluntary program’s statewide launch, 1,460 producers totaling over 1,040,260 acres have been certified across Minnesota. Farms have added over 2,840 new conservation practices. Those new practices help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 50,000 metric tons each year and have kept nearly 48,000 tons of sediment out of Minnesota rivers while saving 142,000 tons of soil and 59,000 pounds of phosphorous on farms each year. The conservation practices have also reduced nitrogen loss up to 49%.

“We can help identify those best management practices or crop management practices that help stabilize the soil and help keep resources in place,” Pearson says.

Minnesota farmers can contact their local SWCD to apply for MAWQCP certification and then complete a series of steps with local certifiers using a 100% site-specific risk-assessment process. Specialists can also help farmers apply for financial assistance and MAWQCP’s Climate Smart Project. After becoming certified, farmers receive a 10-year contract ensuring they will be considered in compliance with any new water quality laws, along with an official MAWQCP sign to display on their farm and other benefits.

“The 10 years of regulatory certainty is very popular with the farmers I work with,” Pearson says.

Farmers and landowners interested in becoming water quality certified can contact their local SWCD or visit If you farm in west-central Minnesota, contact Grant Pearson at or by calling 320-428-4374.

“We’re all here to tell a positive story about farmers’ efforts to help keep their soil and fertilizer resources on their landscape,” he says. “Farmers and the conservation staff are just plain good people to work with.”

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Grant Pearson (left) helps enroll farmers like Paul Freeman (right) in the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program.

The Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program rewards farmers like you for what you do best, taking care of your land and its natural resources.

To get started and learn more, contact your local soil and water conservation district or go to:



MN’s Young Leaders complete ASA program

Leadership is a continuous journey that can’t be measured from a year-long program.

It is measured in what you gain.

Parker Revier recently completed the American Soybean Association (ASA) Corteva Agriscience Young Leader Program with his significant other, Gabrielle Carmichael. This two-phase, year-long program took them to Iowa and Texas. Along the way, the couple made countless connections.

“It was absolutely a fantastic experience for both Gabby and myself,” Revier said. “It was nice to reconnect with the Young Leaders. The second phase focused on how we can use our experiences in our story as farmers and as individuals to better promote and bridge the gap between the consumer and the farmer. That was a great experience and good learning exercise.”

Following his time with the Young Leader program, Revier will remain on the MSGA board as an at-large director.

“I’m going to continue my engagement with the Renville County Corn & Soybean Growers and look for other opportunities locally to engage with,” Revier said. “As far as MSGA, we’ll see what the future brings.”

Revier added that he’s extremely excited to learn more about the industry and engage with Minnesota farmer leaders to find opportunities to promote soybeans.

“It’s our duty to help bridge that gap here locally and be active in our communities and be strong advocates,” Revier said.

Phase I was in late November 2023 at Corteva’s Global Business Center in Johnston, Iowa. There, Revier and Carmichael networked and learned what it takes to be a leader. Phase II

was in March 2024 in Houston, Texas in conjunction with Commodity Classic.

Revier started farming in 2022 in Sibley, Renville and Stevens counties. He recalled his childhood and the memories of spending time with his grandpa in the field and wanting to continue that on his own farm. He hopes to inspire and help other young farmers start their own farming careers.

The Young Leader program works with ASA’s 26 state affiliates and the Grain Farmers of Ontario to identify the top producers to represent their states.

This program, which is supported by the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC), is dedicated to training industry leaders to create a better future for farmers.

Revier said he highly recommends the Young Leader program to anyone who is interested in applying for the program.

It’s worth the time commitment to start or continue one’s leadership journey.

“It’s an experience that Gabby and I will never forget,” he said.

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Checkoff Sponsorships
Parker Revier (left) and Gabrielle Carmichael (middle) receive their Young Leader graduation plaque from Corteva Agriscience’s Matt Rekeweg during the 2024 Commodity Classic.


Bob Worth, the president of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA), isn’t one who gets nervous often. Over decades of farmer leadership, Worth has grown accustomed to visiting with dignitaries and government officials.

But getting to visit face-to-face with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack for the first time gave Worth some butterflies.

“As a farmer advocate, it’s a dream come true to visit with the Secretary of Agriculture,” said Worth, who had met Vilsack’s predecessor, Sonny Perdue, at the 2019 Farmfest. “There’s no replacing the opportunity to have an in-person discussion about the issues that pertain to all of us in agriculture.”

Worth participated in a roundtable on the campus of Minnesota State University, Mankato alongside Vilsack, Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen, Minnesota Farm Service Agency Executive Director Whitney Place and Minnesota commodity leaders.

During his discussion with the secretary, Worth underscored the need for more resources in the next Farm Bill. Worth also encouraged lawmakers and agency leaders to support legislation and programs that promote new and emerging farmers.

“We need to take a look at how we’re going to get these farmers on the land to make it viable for them to be a farmer,” said Worth, who farms with his son, Jon. “It’s very difficult for them to get started, and that’s really sad.”

Vilsack, who owns a farm in Iowa, was receptive to Worth’s concerns. He pointed out that a bright spot in the 2022 Agriculture Census included an increase in beginning farmers, along with the first spike in rural population in a decade. Creating federal tax incentives

for farmers to pass down the farm to the next generation would be a positive step, Vilsack said.

“That was a great comment you made,” he said to Worth, adding, “There are positive happenings, and we need to continue that momentum, which is why we invested in programs that try to create support structures and systems for those farmers.”

Minnesota leading the conservation conversation

During the event, Sec. Vilsack announced the availability of $1.5 billion in fiscal year 2024 to invest in partner-driven conservation and climate solutions through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). USDA is accepting project proposals now through July 2, 2024, which will help Minnesota farmers, ranchers and forest landowners adopt and expand conservation strategies to enhance natural resources. These projects in turn can save farmers money, create new revenue streams and increase productivity. Proposals can be submitted at

Vilsack commended Minnesota for its leadership in promoting conservation practices, including the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program, which MSGA has supported since the program launched a decade ago.

“Minnesota producers and farmers are absolutely committed to conservation,” Vilsack said. “It’s a state that has a state government that understands that conservation is important, and an innovative and progressive Commissioner of Agriculture (Thom Petersen) here who understands this.”

Along with Worth, MSGA Vice President Darin Johnson, Executive Director Joe Smentek and American Soybean Association Director Jim Kukowski attended the event.

“You got the secretary’s attention!” Kukowski told Worth.

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Advocacy in Action
MSGA president visits with USDA secretary, ag leaders














When Dodge County farmer Bruce Schmoll died on March 16, 2024, no shortage of friends and fellow farmers reached out to pay respects and mourn the beloved past president of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA).

From every corner of Minnesota’s soybean country, the tributes rolled in. His deep network of friends wanted to express just how much Bruce meant to them; his impact on agriculture, the memories made, laughs shared, fishing lures saved by diving into frigid waters.

“You couldn’t ask for a nicer guy than Bruce,” said Vesta farmer George Goblish, a director with MSGA and the American Soybean Association and Schmoll’s fishing buddy. “He is going to be missed.”

Bruce Schmoll left his mark on not just family and friends, but an entire industry.

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Bruce Schmoll death impacts farmer leaders far and wide

“Bruce was such a good leader and friend,” MSGA President Bob Worth said. “He did a lot for Minnesota farmers.”

Just days after his close friend’s passing, former MSGA President Kurt Krueger spoke with Soybean Business from the same St. Paul hotel he often visited with Schmoll. Krueger was heading to the Capitol to advocate for rural Minnesotans. He deeply missed his bunkmate.

“I can’t count the times I stayed here with Bruce,” Krueger said. “I kept thinking he should be walking in the room any minute.”

Schmoll, a lifelong resident of Dodge County, attended Claremont High School and graduated in 1971. He attended Winona State University, where he studied industrial arts and coaching, an education that served him well during his years of mentoring younger farmers, including his neighbor Mike Petefish, who replaced Bruce as Dodge County’s MSGA director and later served as president from 2017-2019.

“He first got me involved at the county and state levels and ultimately I followed his footsteps as president,” Petefish said. “I have a lot of memories of Bruce, both advocating and neighborly things, like getting sweet corn and having barbecues with him. He was pretty influential to me.”

Schmoll and his protégé advocated on Capitol Hill and hosted trade teams together. When Schmoll stepped off MSGA in 2018 to focus on his health after suffering a stroke (he later spoke publicly about symptoms to raise awareness about stroke warning

Bruce Schmoll (far right) prioritized building relationships through hosting trade teams and visiting with international partners.

signs), he watched Petefish’s ascension and proactive presidency with gratification.

“I’m proud of Mike and how much he’s put into being a spokesperson and advocate for MSGA,” Schmoll told Soybean Business. “I think it speaks highly for the farmer leaders that we have from this part of Minnesota.”

Cannon Falls farmer Brad Hovel also benefited from Schmoll’s mentorship. He followed Schmoll’s lead by representing Minnesota on the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

“He highly encouraged that for me,” Hovel said. “He ‘voluntold’ me. … He was a guy you could call at any time with questions. Bruce was a farmer’s farmer.”

A passion for farming

Bruce farmed in Dodge County for over 45 years. In 2007, he joined MSGA’s board, forming a close bond with Krueger, who served as president from 2010-2012 (Schmoll served under him as treasurer). Earlier in his tenure as director, Krueger attended an MSGA meeting in Fergus Falls when Schmoll, whom Krueger hadn’t formally met yet, was asked on the spot for his takeaways from a recent trade mission to Mexico. Schmoll jotted down a few notes and presented with ease.

“He rattled it right off. I didn’t realize that Bruce was already well established in the ag sector already before he got on MSGA,” Krueger said, “People in the know knew who he was.”

After the meeting, Krueger introduced himself.

Continued on page 14

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Soybean Business Feature

The two became friends and remained tight through Bruce’s toughest moments battling cancer. In 2019, during an arduous harvest, Schmoll drove up north to help Krueger finish the job.

“He was one of those guys who it was so easy to be his friend,” Krueger said. “I told him, ‘You’re the big brother I never had.’”

Schmoll embodied the role of an agriculture advocate, MSGA Executive Director Joe Smentek said.

“Bruce would talk to anybody anywhere about farming in the U.S. and Minnesota,” Smentek said. “He was passionate about what farmers do and how they do it. We lost a true champion of soy farmers and animal agriculture.”

Serving soy Schmoll was an avid outdoorsman, especially hunting and fishing. He took pleasure in making memories with friends and family while experiencing the outdoors. Often, fellow advocates from the agriculture world would join him for outdoor adventures.

“No matter the situation, he always looked at the bright side of it,” said

Goblish, who tagged along with Schmoll on a fishing trip to Canada. “And he was the only guy I ever knew that dove in the water so he wouldn’t lose a fishing lure. That’s the type of guy he was.”

Schmoll stayed active by playing softball and volleyball. He also bottled homemade wine, which he shared with friends, raised pheasants at his home and was committed to conservation.

“That’s been our emphasis — giving back,” Schmoll told Soybean Business in 2017. “At this point, “I think we’ve helped out a little bit.”

He was active as a farmer leader in many organizations and served as MSGA’s president during its 50th anniversary in 2012. During his presidency, Schmoll and MSGA focused on regulatory, right-to-farmpolicies and protecting biodiesel.

“We were changing a lot as an organization at that time,” Krueger said. “As president, Bruce said what he needed to say.”

While president in 2013, Schmoll participated in a See For Yourself mission to China to promote Minnesota-origin soybeans. Today, about one in three rows of soybeans grown in Minnesota is exported to China.

“Creating these relationships with foreign customers…I can’t express how far that goes to (impact) our bottom line,” Schmoll said in 2015.

He also enjoyed making connections through hosting international trade teams.

“These people come over here; you form a bond, a trust with them,” he said. “That goes a long ways.”

‘Good as gold’

Schmoll wasn’t afraid to go against the grain, either. Unlike many MSGA presidents, who often serve

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Bruce and Tarrie Schmoll were married for more than 40 years. Photo courtesy of Dean Riggott.

two years, Schmoll indicated from the outset that his presidency would last just one year. He also wasn’t afraid to speak out on issues to protect agriculture.

“Serving on the MSGA board helped me better understand the bigger picture,” he said. “We need to make a difference, not just for my family but for other families. I am proud of my career in ag.”

Even though he didn’t raise livestock, Bruce turned his longstanding passion for animal agriculture into a chairman’s position with USMEF, an organization he remained involved with until his death.

He also served on the Claremont Zoning board and the Ripley Township Board and was a lifelong member of Grace Lutheran Church in Dodge Center.

Schmoll was known for his banter and willingness to find common ground. Even when disagreements arose, Schmoll engaged in debates with respect and passion.

“He always handled himself in a very professional and courteous manner and was always respectful toward others, even if their opinions differed,” said Paul Simonsen, former Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC) chair. “He had the type of leadership qualities which were obvious to those around him, and which made him such an effective leader.”

Above all, Schmoll was dependable – as a family member, friend and farmer leader.

“His word was good as gold,” said former MSGA President Paul Freeman, who now sits on MSR&PC. “He wasn’t going to be the center of attention, but he was able to move the room with his manner and how he got things accomplished.”

Family was front and center for Schmoll, especially his two granddaughters, Ella and Ava. Bruce met his future wife, Tarrie, on a blind date. The die was cast: They were married in Winona in September 1979 and enjoyed 44 years of marriage. Together, the Schmolls raised two sons, Eric and Adam.

Farmers who sit on voluntary boards aren’t paid and rarely receive accolades. They commit valuable time and energy away from their family and operations. Yet, even after Schmoll departed from the MSGA board, he continued to lead and counsel directors.

“Bruce wanted to do what was best for our industry, even if it meant he was away from his occupation,” Worth said. “It’s something that I don’t think many really realize how much time we do spend away. But if I wasn’t involved with MSGA, I would’ve never have known Bruce Schmoll.”

For his family and friends, the memories of Bruce Schmoll live on. He set a standard.

“If I could make a Mount Rushmore of friends, Bruce would have a prominent spot,” Krueger said. “He was just the best.”


Schmoll’s passion for agriculture extended beyond traditional crops. His vineyard produced about 75 bottles of wine each year, but finding hands to help pick the vines of mostly red grapes became a chore.

“After they try it once, they’re not so eager to do it a second time,” ,” he said in 2017. “It can be very laborious.”

It started as a hobby, but Bruce didn’t fully realize at first the complexities of growing grapes.

“You don’t just plant the vines and let them go – you have to put a trellis system in, you have to prune them, they need to be sprayed,” he said. “There’s a lot to growing grapes.”

Schmoll also grew pumpkins and Black Hills Christmas trees for his grandchildren and raised pheasants.

“I don’t know how many times he said, ‘This is my last year of hatching out baby pheasants.’ I don’t know how many years he kept saying that, yet every year he did it again,” Kurt Krueger said, laughing. “He never got away from it, right until the very end. He was diverse, to say the least.”

MAY - JUNE - 2024 - Soybean Business - 15


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See more ways the soy checkoff is maximizing profit opportunities for soybean farmers at Brought to you by the soy checkoff. ©2018 United Soybean Board. Our Soy Checkoff and the Our Soy Checkoff mark are trademarks of United Soybean Board. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners.
All soybean farmers, including you, are busy replacing petroleum with your soy oil. How? By pooling your resources through your soy checkoff. Learn how your soy checkoff is bringing tangible returns back to you and your operation at Moving Soy Forward. Moving You Forward. ©2021 United Soybean Board [61133-1 7/21] MN You’re where the rubber meets the road. And the engine. And the interior. ( YOU )

With checkoff support, SSGA marks five years of operations

The Specialty Soya and Grains Alliance (SSGA) is the little engine that could – and did. And continues doing.

Focused on building, growing and sustaining a reliable supply chain that ensures integrity of the end product, SSGA celebrated five years of operations this March at its annual meeting prior to the Transportation Go! Conference in Toledo, Ohio.

“SSGA has led the way,” said Curt Petrich, who served as SSGA’s first chairman. “Without this organization, a number of things couldn’t get done in this sector.”

In early 2019, the Northern Food Grade Soybean Association and the Midwest Shippers Association merged to establish SSGA. Since its inception, SSGA has solidified itself as the leading voice for the industry that delivers traceable, high-quality, variety-specific field crops to food markets worldwide.

“Rather than these two smaller associations meandering down narrower paths, they combined their talents to create a new organization that could build a national scope,” SSGA Executive Director Eric Wenberg said.

Wenberg, who spent more than 25 years with USDA’s Foreign Service Agency, made his impact felt on SSGA at the outset. Within days of starting his position in March 2019, Wenberg was promoting the new organization during a meeting at the Japan Embassy in Washington, D.C., alongside leaders from the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association.

SSGA may only be five years into its mission, but its list of accomplishments is impressive, with ongoing work continuing to gain momentum.

“The gap that SSGA fills is to focus attention on the needs of containerized transportation in a whole supply chain from the farmer to the buyer abroad,” Wenberg said. “We have spent years doing market research and responding to members’ requests to develop innovative programs that deliver benefits to Minnesota and the region.”

One of SSGA’s biggest accomplishments is its phytosanitary inspection certification program for containerized shipments of identity preserved soybeans. Phytosanitary certificates allow importers and exporters to certify that plants and plant products have been inspected, are free of pests and conform to the phytosanitary requirements of the country the product is being sent to.

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and SSGA are the only two organizations that administer inspection programs for phytosanitary certificate applications.

“It attests to the reliability that the shipment does not pose a threat to the transmission of unwanted pests, weeds and diseases,” Wenberg said.

SSGA Executive Director Eric Wenberg (right) visits with Nguyen Quoc Khanh, executive director of research & development at Vinamilk, Vietnam’s largest dairy company, during the launch of the U.S. Identity Preserved international program in November 2022.

Turning points

The phytosanitary program isn’t the only way that SSGA is paving the way for high-quality, specialty grains. In its short five years, SSGA has developed the first national industry standard for identity preserved crops, an assurance plan and brand program that highlights quality and traceability that make those crops worth the higher prices food manufacturers pay for them.

“Launching the U.S. Identity Preserved program in December 2021 was a real turning point for SSGA,” SSGA Manager of Strategic Programs Shane Frederick said. “We spent the time before that building the brand, doing market research to back up what we wanted to do with it and then implementing it and getting it adopted by different companies.”

After launching U.S. Identity Preserved internationally in November 2022 in Vietnam, SSGA hosted the firstof-its-kind Identity Preserved International Summit in January 2023 featuring presentations on supply, transportation, crop conditions and availability and more. At the Summit, there were ample networking opportunities for food manufacturers; qualified grain and oilseed buyers and sellers; and transportation, equipment, seed and input companies from around the world. SSGA will bring the conference back to Hawaii Feb. 18-20, 2025.“With our U.S. Identity Preserved designation, we’re delivering a quality assurance plan that brings together the U.S. IP industry and reinforces the United States as a quality origin for those IP crops,” Wenberg said. “U.S. Identity Preserved is helping U.S. processors and exporters broaden access and open more foreign markets, as well as better compete in the international market.”

SSGA also played a leading role in advocating for the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 – introduced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar – which increases the authority of the Federal Maritime Commission to promote the growth and development of U.S. exports through an ocean transportation system that is competitive, efficient and economical.

“We have achieved interest in the need for better shipping from the heartland of America that made us a strong voice, resulting in the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022,” Wenberg said. “That meant that for the first time, the Federal Maritime Commission could act as a regulatory authority against the unfair practices of ocean carriers.”

Without SSGA’s members and board members, the organization wouldn’t be where it is today.

“We have the most active set of volunteers you can imagine,” Wenberg said. “The SSGA staff are beneficiaries of hundreds of hours a month of businesses and growers willing to put their own time and backs into negotiating and working on these tasks.”

Frederick echoes that sentiment.

“I love the fact that this is an organization whose members are really active and care about what we’re doing,” Frederick said. “We’re here to serve their business needs where we can but their businesses are still their businesses. They’re passionate and get involved in all aspects.”

Checkoff support

Since the beginning, the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC) has invested soybean checkoff dollars to support SSGA and its vision to promote and enhance value throughout the supply chain, from farmer to food business.

Continued on page 20

MAY - JUNE - 2024 - Soybean Business - 19
Checkoff Partnerships

Former Council Chair Keith Schrader sat on SSGA’s board for several years before passing the baton to MSR&PC Vice Chair Gail Donkers, who was elected in 2023.

“This is such a close-knit industry, and I’ve loved working with these people,” Schrader said. “Even though these businesses are in competition, I admire the way SSGA works as a team to better the industry.”

Donkers attended the Identity Preserved International Summit in 2023 and came away impressed with the soy checkoff’s partnership with SSGA.

“MSR&PC’s checkoff investment in SSGA is a no-brainer,” Donkers said. “Minnesota is the No. 1 producer of foodgrade soybeans in the nation and the work that SSGA does on behalf of our growers has changed the game.”

SSGA doesn’t have any plans to slow down but to build off its momentum in the years ahead.

“SSGA is at a point where the programs that have solidified over the last couple of years are growing,” Frederick said. “We’re at a really good spot to take things up a notch. There are always going to be issues to tackle, but growing the organization, what it stands for and the programs it has in place will play a large part in the next five years.”

It’s only been five years since SSGA entered the scene, but its list of feats is growing. This little engine that could is just revving up.

“It is not boasting to say that SSGA changed an industry,” Wenberg said. “It has been an industry people couldn’t find –that’s not true anymore.”

SSGA Look Ahead

SSGA has a full slate of events, many of which include soy checkoff support, scheduled throughout 2024 and 2025. Visit to learn more about SSGA’s programs and events.

June 17-21: IP/Food Grade Soybean Procurement Course, Fargo

July 10-11: USAEDC Attaché Seminar, McLean, Va.

July 22-24: Soybean Research Forum & Think Tank, Indianapolis

Aug. 5-8: Natto Summit (USA)

Aug.18-21: Soy Connext, San Francisco

Sept. 3-8: European Port Tour with St. Lawrence Seaway

Sept. 9-13: USDA Trade Mission, Vietnam

Feb. 18-20, 2025: Identity Preserved International Summit, Honolulu

March 11, 2025: SSGA Annual Meeting, Minneapolis

March 12-13, 2025: Transportation Go!, Minneapolis

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SSGA and MSR&PC Director Gail Donkers (left) visits with Eric Wenberg at the 2024 MN Ag Expo.

U.S. soybean farmers are putting out fires and blazing trails…literally.

As firefighting foam with PFAS, also known as forever chemicals, becomes more regulated, the soybean checkoff has invested its resources into finding a cleaner, environmentally friendly alternative.

Introducing SoyFoam TF 1122.

Developed by the Georgia-based company Cross Plains Solutions, SoyFoam TF 1122 is a smothering agent, made from soy flour, capable of extinguishing Class A and Class B fires while eliminating intentionally added PFAS chemicals. There are also no detectable fluorines (less than 1 parts per million) in the concentrate.

“This product is a first-of-its-kind and there’s a real need for it here in Minnesota,” said Mike Youngerberg, Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC) senior director of product development and commercialization.

In May 2023, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed into law banning the sale of certain products containing “intentionally added” PFAS. Minnesota was the second state to broadly ban the forever chemicals, with only several exemptions to date.

“As of Jan. 1, 2024, we were prohibited from using foam with PFAS for testing, training and response, with very few exceptions,” said Matthew Grave, Willmar deputy fire chief. “We have very limited options, so hearing about this new biobased product is encouraging.”

In March, Grave and Youngerberg joined a group of U.S. soybean farmers, firefighters and industry leaders in Dalton, Georgia, to see the foam firsthand at a local demonstration.

New checkoff project brings soybean farmers, firefighters together

During the demonstration, the group was able to view SoyFoam TF 1122 used in various scenarios, including ordinary combustibles and diesel fuel. The firefighters also tested two concentrate formulations, including one and three percent.

“This product is unique because it covers both Class A and Class B fires,” Grave said. “Typically, we’d have to carry both.”

The United Soybean Board began investing checkoff dollars into this concept in October 2022. A year later, the U.S. Forest Service and Department of Defense began testing the product. Like many checkoff projects, the firefighting foam took time to develop.

“It’s taken 18 months to get from conception to almost commercialization,” said Alan Snipes, managing partner with Cross Plains Solutions.

SoyFoam TF 1122 is the first and only firefighting foam to attain the gold level through GreenScreen Certified for Safer Chemicals, a globally recognized chemical hazard assessment method.

Along with containing no intentionally added PFAS chemicals or detectable fluorines, the foam concentrate is certified 100-percent biodegradable, 84-percent


According to the International Association of Fire Fighters, 66 percent of firefighter deaths between 2002 -2019 are linked to cancer. Firefighters are at higher risk of getting several types of cancer, including twice as likely to be diagnosed with testicular cancer and mesothelioma than the general population. Cancer has replaced heart disease as the leading cause of death for firefighters.

biobased and made using U.S.-grown soy.

“The environmental advantages have proven themselves,” Snipes said.

Even better, the price comparison is relative.

“Right now, based on what the market is we see that we are comparable in price, and in some cases, even cheaper,” Snipes said.

Youngerberg, who has seen numerous soybased products move from the research stage to commercialization during his nearly 40 years with MSR&PC (including biodiesel), says this project is one more example of how the checkoff can bring value not only to farmers, but first responders.

“Our firefighters risk so much for our communities,” he said. “The soy checkoff is doing its part to find ways to reduce the use and exposure to harmful chemicals, all while creating a demand for our beans. That’s a great story to tell.”

Checkoff Feature
MSR&PC, AURI work to boost market needs, create new uses

For more than 30 years, the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI) has committed to developing new uses for agricultural products by connecting with businesses and producers. Over several decades, the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC) has been working with AURI on various projects, aiding in adding value to Minnesota grown soybeans.

meal blend and a 16% nitrogen with a 50% inclusion of soybean meal blend were introduced.

AURI is in the business of value-added agricultural products. When AURI discovers projects that relate to the agriculture industry, they do whatever they can to help bring that product to the market, whether through providing technical advancements that their laboratories could contribute toward, or an explanation of a literature review, or even outreach to help with consumer awareness of certain products through demonstrations and educational efforts.

MSR&PC and AURI are currently collaborating on a project involving soybean meal in fertilizer products. These fertilizer products were extensively tested on actual turf last year and are now going to be marketed to those in the garden and lawn industries as a biobased product. In 2023, a 7% nitrogen with a 50% inclusion of soybean

“Soybean meal has been a component of certain fertilizers in the horticulture area,” said Harold Stanislawski, AURI’s business and industry development director. “Because there’s more soy crush facilities being brought into the region, there’s more of an urgency to look at soybean meal utilization.”

This year, the consumer needs changed slightly. Early in the spring, homeowners want to see their grass pop up faster after seeding. To bolster this market need, AURI is currently working with manufacturers on creating a new blend of 24% nitrogen with a 25%-soybean inclusion rate. This blend started being developed and manufactured in spring 2024.

Additionally, one market that AURI is exploring is engaging with rural homeowners.

“It’s a good way to get the product known into markets where folks live near soybeans,” said Stanislawski. “It’s a good place to start and of course we want to move beyond that.”

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The soy checkoff and AURI are working together to study the use of soybean meal in fertilizer products.

AURI is looking into hosting demonstrations on college campuses to raise awareness of the product.

Council Director Cole Trebesch works alongside fellow directors in reviewing product development proposals for checkoff support. He said soy checkoff investments in AURI help improve profitability on his family operation in Brown County.

“Soybeans are such a versatile crop, and in today’s marketplace, it’s critical that we continue finding and developing new uses for our beans,” he said. “Our collaboration with AURI helps support those efforts.”

Roofs restored

Another checkoff-supported product coming through AURI’s educational pipeline is roof shingle rejuvenates. Like asphalt rejuvenates for the road, this product uses soybean oil to increase longevity of the asphalt. When used properly, this product can add years onto consumers’ asphalt surfaces. Additionally, adding life to roof shingles will improve the environment by keeping them out of landfills so that they don’t have to be recycled quite as early, which adds a sustainability twist to the marketing efforts.

AURI and MSR&PC are teaming up to drive awareness and further use of this product.

“With the encouragement of the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council,” Stanislawski said, “we decided to try to increase the utilization of products that have already had some checkoff funding but that lack broader public awareness.”

In the state of Minnesota, around 80% of houses are roofed with asphalt shingles. This provides AURI and MSR&PC with a large market and a huge opportunity to make soy a part of the solution in making shingles last longer.

“This whole project is about awareness, utilization and working with a distribution network that is in Minnesota right now,” said Stanislawski. We’re going to try to advance this (product) through demonstrations and literature review.”

Of course, it’s not just humans who enjoy soy. The pet food market could provide some exciting market opportunities for soybeans as well. AURI is conducting a market assessment with Axiom to figure out where exactly all the soy is being used and in which products.

Continued on page 26

Soybeans are such a versatile crop, and in today’s marketplace, it’s critical that we continue finding and developing new uses for our beans. Our collaboration with AURI helps support those efforts.
- Cole Trebesch
MAY - JUNE - 2024 - Soybean Business - 25
Checkoff Investments

“Right now, we are looking at volume usage, who is using it, as well as potential areas for novel inclusion as well,” said Ben Swanson, AURI scientist of Food & Nutrition.

Treats, prebiotics, probiotics and fiber products already exist, but there could be potential to include soybean for replacements. Dental hygiene treats contain a lot of wheat and corn, and this is an area where Swanson predicts soy to have the potential to be added in.

“Soybeans have phenomenal functionality when it comes to processing,” Swanson said. “Then, from a nutrition standpoint, the protein is well known to be phenomenal from an amino acid standpoint.”

Currently, soybean meal is used more in dry kibble products. However, in the pet food industry, a trend to ‘humanize’ dog food is starting to rise. Swanson predicts that this could be a big potential for soy as consumers are looking for sustainable and natural products.

The Technical Advisory Program (TAP) is another project that AURI and MSR&PC have collaborated on for around 10 years.

“Our job is to capture, assess and understand those research programs to benefit Minnesota Soybean,” said AURI Senior Scientist Dr. Jimmy Gosse.

‘The big picture’

With the push of MSR&PC, AURI employees like Gosse have the opportunity to look at a project through participation in technical workshops put on by the United Soybean Board, Clean Fuels Alliance America or other national research discovery meetings and brainstorm how these new-use research or potential new product can impact the soybean industry here in Minnesota, along with how to capitalize on helping create new businesses in the

(Farmer leaders) are challenging us to look at the big picture. We always get grower partners to show and ask questions and advocate.

Jimmy Gosse,

AURI senior scientist

state. Their main focus through this program is building networks and engaging consumers in the many uses of Minnesota grown soybeans. “(Farmer leaders) are challenging us to look at the big picture,” said Gosse, who also serves on the Ag Innovation Campus Board of Directors. “We always get grower partners to show and ask questions and advocate.”

As a part of the TAP program, a special fund called the rapid response fund allows AURI to go to events on behalf of MSR&PC to learn more about products and research that include soy in them. A direct result of this fund led to a project with the city of Hutchinson – a Minnesota town that’s become a leader in using soybean oil in asphalt preservation products. During a five-year project, city leaders reported saving up to 30% in road maintenance costs by using RePlay.

“Our technical advisory program will continue to be adaptive and responsive,” said Gosse, “not only to the economic status of the community, but also the desire to find new markets and opportunities.”

As the partnership between AURI and the soy checkoff continues, there will be more opportunities to expand the end uses of soybeans in the state of Minnesota.

“We are looking at more ways to use soy, all the time,” said Stanislawski. “It is on our radar.”

RePlay Asphalt Sealant uses 100 bushels of soybeans per lane per mile. Thanks to soy checkoff partnerships with AURI, more than 400 applications of RePlay have been applied across Minnesota on city streets, parking lots, trails and county roads.

26 - Soybean Business - MAY - JUNE - 2024

Working Capital 101: A Foundation for Farming Financial Success

The ag banking team at Profinium knows that farmers aren’t just farmers – they’re so much more, including business owners tasked with managing their farm’s financial position. As the 2024 growing season ramps up, David.Thamert, senior vice president of ag banking at Profinium, is reminding producers of the vital role working capital plays on a farm, especially during periods of lower margins.

“Working capital is one of the most important financial metrics when a banking institution looks at farm finances,” Thamert says. “If you view the farm as a stool, working capital is one of the legs holding up that stool.”

A critical component of any farm operation, working capital refers to short-term assets, including cash, crop, market livestock and accounts receivable, minus shortterm debts, such as operating debt and accounts payable. While it isn’t feasible to focus solely on working capital, it is important for producers to balance sources of working capital with other financial considerations, such as equipment needs for efficiency, long-term goals such as land ownership, transition goals, tax management and family living needs, among others.

“We want to always make sure that the farmer still has good leverage and that they remain in financial control of their operation,” Thamert says. “Working capital is something that I want to check to make sure that we’re still within the safe boundaries ”


Because farms vary in size, the Farm Financial Standards Council suggests maintaining at least 10 to 30 percent – instead of a specific number – of annual gross revenues in working capital. Some years, this may mean scaling back discretionary spending, while incrementally expanding during profitable years.

“Where we try to show our value at Profinium is in asking people, ‘Hey, if we do that, let’s look at how it would impact your working capital and how it would impact your cash flow,’ ” Thamert says. “Then, when we are going through lower margin years, you’re not at the mercy of the bank.”

By working with Profinium ag bankers like Thamert, who grew up on a crop and dairy farm, farmers across southern Minnesota can rest assured knowing that they’re in capable hands.

Thamert goes on to say, “Our mantra is that we start with a ‘Yes.’ So, if you come to me with a credit request, I’m always going to focus on how we can make it reality for you ”



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Jim Willers reflects on 25 years of leadership

28 - Soybean Business - MAY - JUNE - 2024 JANUARY - FEBRUARY - 2024 - Soybean Business - 28

Most farmer leaders on Minnesota Soybean’s two farmerled boards can scarcely remember a time when biodiesel wasn’t a revenue driver for their operations.

But Jim Willers does. When he became a farmer leader in the late 1990s, he can recall selling his soybeans for $3.99. Along with growing the China market – which would become the largest purchaser of U.S. soy –biodiesel changed the game for not just producers, but Minnesota Soybean.

“Biodiesel put us on the map because we were unknown at the time,” Willers said. “Ever since then, legislators and the industry – they know who we are.”

Soybean industry leaders certainly know who Willers is. In 1999, the Beaver Creek farmer, who grows soybeans and corn, became a director with the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA). During his five years on MSGA, Willers joined advocates in heading to the Capitol, where they all wore red pins and educated legislators on the potential of soy-based diesel, which led to historic legislation in 2002.

“The price of beans was down, and things were rough on farmers,” Willers said. “We’d bring a hundred farmers to the Capitol, and these legislators started to get the message.”

Over the ensuing quarter century, Willers has become a biodiesel expert through positions with the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC), United Soybean Board and the Minnesota Biodiesel Council.

“Jim has so much knowledge about biodiesel,” Council Director Pat Sullivan said. “As a director, he was always at the table and willing to ask the hard questions.”

After watching biodiesel grow and develop, he’s now looking toward the future.

“I think sustainable aviation fuel is going to be a monster market,” Willers said. “Between that and renewable diesel, it’s taken on a life of its own.”

‘Big dreams’

Willers was elected as the Council’s District 7 representative in 2003. In 2008, he started a two-year run as chairman, during which MSR&PC continued

investing checkoff resources toward biodiesel, agronomic research, creating new uses and opening new markets. Throughout his seven terms on the Council, Willers was involved in nearly all aspects of MSR&PC’s strategic mission, from product development to marketing and communications efforts.

“He’s always thinking about how we can work better and work smarter,” Council CEO Tom Slunecka said. “He’s not afraid of challenging the status quo and taking risks.”

On behalf of the checkoff, Willers traveled internationally to help grow markets in China, Southeast Asia and Europe.

“I’ve always been very impressed with Jim’s ability to meet and find new contacts to help us on our project work,” Slunecka said. “He’s able to work the room and take the task to heart.”

Willers has helped promote numerous checkoff projects, including RePlay asphalt surface and checkoff collaborations with the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI). During a visit to the Council’s office in April, Willers arrived wearing soy-based Skechers shoes.

“We’ve had pretty big dreams on the (soybean) oil side,” Willers said, “and we’ve far exceeded that now.”

When Willers started, the Council held operations in a basement in North Mankato. Once he attends his final board meeting in June, Willers will experience the Council’s new, state-of-the-art headquarters.

“We’ve become a very focused and well-respected organization,” he said.

Council Chair Tom Frisch lauded Willers’ industry expertise.

“It’s going to be a big loss,” he said. “There’s a lot of knowledge Jim retained over 21 years on the Council. He’s been instrumental in our success.”

After Willers’ current term ends July 1, he plans to enjoy time with family. To bring it back full circle, Willers hopes to stay involved with the Minnesota Biodiesel Council.

“It’s been fun, and I’m going to miss the people,” he said. “But I hope to stay on the Biodiesel Council as long as they’ll want me on there.”

After moving from MSGA to MSR&PC, Willers continued championing MSGA’s lobbying efforts. He understands how both organizations work together to improve the farm economy.
“Without the advocacy part, the checkoff side couldn’t thrive,” he said. “With how few rural legislators there are today, I think it’s even more important today than ever to support MSGA and be a member.”
MAY - JUNE - 2024 - Soybean Business - 29 Checkoff Feature


them. He loves talking about and promoting the miracle bean. He loves how soybeans improve his soil and all their value-added uses.

So, it may come as a surprise that after three terms and nine years on the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC), Folland is taking a step back. But every good leader knows when it’s time to step away and make room for others.

For Folland, that moment has arrived.

“Nine years is a good number. You can learn a lot and hopefully contribute a lot, but you’ve reached a point where it’s time for someone else to step in and make an impact,” he said. “I believe the Council is in good hands and is headed in the right direction.”


Along with his love of soybeans, Folland also enjoys being involved in his community. He’s also had a passion for research. When fellow Kittson County farmer and past MSGA Director Theresa Gillie, who knows a thing or two about being active and involved, encouraged Folland to run for the Council roughly a decade ago, it seemed like a natural way to combine his dedication to research and community involvement.

“Research has always been No. 1 for me,” Folland said. “As a farmer, you’re always looking for new ways to do the best job you can.”

Folland says you need to look back to the past. He notes that the practices and resources we have now, even for simple things such as planting dates and pest management, dates back to checkoff-supported research that was done decades ago. He hopes that the research that’s being done now will eventually become common knowledge or practice in the future.

A key pet project – a “pest” project, rather – for Folland during his tenure has been supporting research projects on soybean cyst nematode and soybean aphids. He knows the research the soy checkoff funds is valid because he’s seen it pay off on his own farm.

“One shining example is the research on the economic threshold for spraying soybean aphids. The research we supported discovered that you shouldn’t spray for aphids unless you hit a certain threshold,” Folland said. “I and many others are better stewards, both environmentally and financially, because of that research the Council supported.”

Council Director Gene Stoel said Folland’s inquisitive nature and passion for research combined for a strong checkoff-supported research program. Folland would also apply some of those same projects to his own operation.

“Kris was very dedicated to research,” Stoel said. “He took it very seriously and wanted to make sure the research was helping the farmers of Minnesota.”

30 - Soybean Business - MAY - JUNE - 2024
Kris Folland looks back on nine years with MSR&PC

Trucking on biodiesel’s bandwagon

When Folland first joined the Council back in 2015, he quickly discovered there was more to the soy checkoff beyond research, such as discovering new uses, emerging markets and promoting the positive impact of the soy checkoff. That’s when Folland discovered another new passion: biodiesel.

“Right off the bat, (MSR&PC staffer) Mike Youngerberg and I worked together on some collaborative efforts both on the research and promotion of biodiesel,” said Folland. “Biodiesel is great for farmers, it’s great for vehicles, it’s great for the environment…it’s great for everybody.”

Folland played a role in two major biodiesel milestones for the checkoff: transitioning to B20 and teaming up with the DieselSellerz to promote biodiesel. In 2018, Folland was featured on the “Diesel Brothers” Discovery show. Those two moments collided when Gov. Tim Walz asked to have the custom-built biodiesel truck brought to the Capitol for photos after the B20 mandate was signed into law.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime, surreal experience. This whole campaign with the DieselSellerz was intended to promote biodiesel, so to get two episodes on prime time was a huge bang for our buck,” Folland said. “It’s priceless advertising for Minnesota Soybean, our farmers and the biodiesel industry.”

Leaving a legacy

As Folland steps down, he leaves behind a legacy of being fiscally responsible yet brave enough to think outside the box and recognize the importance of the next big thing.

I definitely want to continue to be involved with Minnesota Soybean. It’s a good group of people doing good things for our industry.

“Kris is very agronomically proficient and was willing to put himself out there to try new things, which led to him being very successful on our production action team,” said MSR&PC CEO Tom Slunecka, who worked with Folland throughout his three terms. “I am going to miss how pragmatic he was about his research and his understanding of the importance of being willing to take risks every now and then.”

Folland farms with his wife, Bethany, and their four children. While he looks ahead to the next generation of leaders, he hopes his successor, who will step on the Council effective July 1, continues advancing the soy checkoff.

“My advice to them is be very responsible with the checkoff dollars while also looking for new opportunities in areas of research, promotion and investment that we haven’t thought of, because that will be important for the future,” said Folland.

Folland is committed to always being an outspoken supporter of soybeans, which he said has been a boon for farmers in northwestern Minnesota.

“Soybeans are very important to my family and my farm and have played a vital role in our rotation and have done wonders for the land,” he said. “They produce a high-quality protein and oil off of what we consider very marginal land. I love soybeans.”

MAY - JUNE - 2024 - Soybean Business - 31
Checkoff Feature
Folland, pictured here with the DieselSellerz, will remain active in agriculture through his fulltime role with the Minnesota Crop Improvement Association, along with serving on his county soybean board, Minnesota Turf Seed Council, local co-ops and 4-H.


Conservation Technology Information Center partners with Farmers for Soil Health to promote cover crops, soil health

As a soil health specialist with the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC), Dan Coffman can share with farmers the personal benefits he’s experienced using cover crops on his own 200-acre farm in Nicollet, Minn.

“With a proven background in soil health, Dan possesses the technical knowledge required to assess and promote soil health,” says Ryan Heiniger, CTIC Executive Director. “However, what sets him apart is his first-hand experience implementing soil health practices on his own farm. This unique perspective allows him to connect with fellow farmers and provide practical guidance and support in adopting sustainable agricultural practices.”

Coffman serves as CTIC’s soil health specialist in Minnesota. In his role, Coffman actively promotes the program and assists farmers in the enrollment process. This program encourages the adoption of cover crops by offering incentives for their use. Since partnering with Farmers for Soil Health, CTIC has engaged with producers by holding webinars and exhibiting at various events, including the 2024 MN Ag Expo.

“MN Ag Expo was an awesome experience,” Coffman says. “We had constant booth traffic and conversations about cover crops and how they’re working on their farm, or just curiosity about what are cover crops or how they could fit in their rotation.”

In the past year, CTIC has enrolled nearly 15,000 acres across Minnesota in Farmers for Soil Health. CTIC also supports soil health specialists in South Dakota and Wisconsin in its goal to enroll 500 farms totaling 87,000 acres by 2026. Thanks to additional support from General Mills, CTIC has also hired expert farmers as cover crop coaches to provide mentoring to farmers just beginning their soil health journey.

“The program has been very well received and I

think it just goes to show how much of a farmer-friendly program it is,” Coffman says. “It’s made for farmers to be farmer friendly.”

Cover crop benefits

One of the farmers who jumped at the chance to enroll was Appleton, Minn., farmer Ed Hegland. The former president of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association learned about CTIC and FSH through a webinar in early 2024. He then reached out to Coffman, who guided him through the enrollment channels.

“It was a very simple process. Dan came right to my kitchen table,” Hegland says. “I just love programs that are incentive-based. A lot of people don’t fully understand the benefits of cover crops.”

By planting cover crops, Hegland protects his topsoil by improving water filtration. He’s also nearly eliminated wind erosion and saved on fuel and labor costs while maintaining yields. In addition, cover crops produce biomass that provides organic matter, supports carbon cycling and improves weed control.

“Ed is a great advocate for agriculture and soil health and cover crops,” Coffman says. “He not only talks the talk, but he’s walking the walk and continues to do that.”

Through CTIC and Farmers for Soil Health, Hegland is set to earn additional financial incentives through his conservation practices, including $50 per new acre of cover crops spread across three years. In the first year, the farmer receives $25 per acre, then $15 per acre the second year and $10 per acre in the third and final year.

“Having something living that’s holding that soil in place and preventing topsoil from leaving the field –that’s a huge piece,” Hegland says. “My big thing is, I’m a conservationist and we need programs like (CTIC and Farmers for Soil Health) that are going to incentivize farmers to want to do this.”

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The Soy Checkoff, Pork Checkoff and National Corn Growers Association lead Farmers for Soil Health, which advances the use of soil health practices like cover crops to help improve farmer profitability.

“It’s great that these groups are investing checkoff resources into programs like these,” Coffman says. Farmers for Soil Health has set a bold goal toward improving soil health by encouraging farmers to expand their cover crop adoption in efforts to reach 30 million U.S. acres by 2030. Enrollment for 2024 is now open, and farmers can learn more by visiting

“We want to leave the soil better than we found it,” Coffman says. “The longer you do these practices, the better your soil will get.”

Farmers for Soil Health Program Details

• Enrollment is now open at

• Farmers can self-enroll but are encouraged to seek out a soil health specialist

• Program is a three-year commitment

• Crop fields with corn and/or soybean in the rotation are eligible for transition incentives totaling $50 per new acre of cover crops across three years

• Signing incentives of $2 per acre are available for existing cover crops on corn and soybean fields

• The program requires participation in management, reporting

verification to demonstrate progress toward the program’s goal

MAY - JUNE - 2024 - Soybean Business - 33
Established in 1982, the Conservation Technology Information Center supports the widespread use of economically and environmentally beneficial agricultural systems. Learn more at CTIC. org. Who is CTIC?
This material is based upon work supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, under agreement number NR233A 750004G003. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In addition, any reference to specific grants or types of products or services does not constitute or imply an endorsement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for those products or services. Minnesota Enrollment Contact Dan Coffman MN Soil Health Specialist, CTIC Phone: 507-508-6556 Email:

Checkoff trade mission leads to sale of U.S.-origin soy

The Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC) is proving it’s willing to look far and wide in every nook and cranny to invest soy checkoff resources in new markets – including halfway around the globe to one of the only doubly landlocked countries in the world.

Through foresight and follow ups, the soy checkoff is filling a need in Central Asia.

Uzbekistan’s population is expanding, its economy is growing and there’s high demand for good quality, high-protein soy. This spring, four Council directors – Chair Tom Frisch, Patrick O’Leary, Gene Stoel and Ben Storm – made the long-

awaited return to Uzbekistan to make stronger connections, check up on soy checkoff investments and continue to push for U.S. soy in Uzbekistan’s growing marketplace.

“It’s all about relationships,” Frisch said.

A return trip

The Council first visited Uzbekistan in September 2022 for a fact-finding mission to learn more about the country’s potential to become a U.S. soy purchaser and boost Uzbekistan’s animal productivity.

“We heard some good thing were happening in Uzbekistan, and when we went over there in 2022, we discovered that everything we had

heard was true,” Stoel said. “When we visited with their poultry and dairy producers, we also discovered that our soybeans could greatly help improve productivity.”

The trade mission in March 2024 featured a busy itinerary of meetings and tours with many of the largest poultry and dairy producers in Uzbekistan, as well as feed mill and soybean crushing facilities. The trip afforded an opportunity for Council directors to evaluate the market strategy put in place by MSR&PC for Uzbekistan, which consisted of providing technical expertise in the country, along with providing educational courses and resources for soy users.

34 - Soybean Business - MAY - JUNE - 2024

35.6M 2% 5% 10M

The Council is getting the word out, both locally and abroad, about Uzbekistan’s potential.

“When I talk to my neighbors, they rarely have any idea where Uzbekistan even is,” said Stoel, who farms in Murray County. “We hope we can change that by working in partnership with Uzbekistan to

improve the lives in both countries, and I believe we’ve made a great step forward in doing that.”

Hugging it out

Well ahead of any major purchase of U.S.-origin soy, MSR&PC made key investments to ensure that Uzbekistan animal producers

can use commodity to its fullest potential. One of those investments was the hiring of Dr. Abdolreza

“Reza” Kamyab, an animal nutrition expert with a Ph.D. in Poultry Nutrition & Management from the University of Minnesota.

Continued on page 36

Why Uzbekistan?

This emerging market for U.S.-origin soy has the potential to increase grain exports via the Port of Duluth-Superior. In the past, Uzbekistan has been reliant on Russia and Argentina for grain. This soy checkoff investment led by MSR&PC brings Uzbekistan’s interests closer to the U.S. and helps grow markets for U.S. soy.

MAY - JUNE - 2024 - Soybean Business - 35
Checkoff Feature
“I think the money that we are investing into Uzbekistan is very well spent. Not only is there a lot of potential to bring U.S. and Minnesota-origin soybeans and soybean meal here, but also to increase their soy usage overall.”

Treasurer Ben Storm

Reza has worked in-country to provide technical assistance to Uzbekistan poultry producers.

“Reza’s work has been extremely well received. He was literally hugged in almost all of the meetings we had with poultry producers for the work he’s done transforming poultry production in Uzbekistan,” said MSR&PC Director of Market Development Kim Nill, who’s

accompanied Council directors on both visits to Uzbekistan.

Reza’s basic suggestions for improving management of the poultry operations have not only already significantly increased their profit, but more importantly for MSR&PC, set them up to be ready to maximize the profit benefit they will get when they begin using highquality U.S. soymeal.

“We’re pretty proud of the product we grow out of Minnesota and the U.S. as a whole,” said O’Leary, a past Council chair. “It’s a very consistent and high-quality soybean as compared to what they’ve had access to in Uzbekistan in the past.”

Other soy checkoff investments include providing technical assistance books for crush facilities, feed mill operators and poultry producers that

36 - Soybean Business - MAY - JUNE - 2024
MSR&PC Director Gene Stoel (left) made a habit of building relationships and making connections during his return trip to Uzbekistan.

The soy checkoff started making inroads in Uzbekistan in 2021. One year later, the Council helped make history when Uzbekistan traders imported 700 metric tons of U.S. soymeal for the first time.

were translated to Russian, the official language of Uzbekistan.

“I think the money that we are investing into Uzbekistan is very well spent,” said Storm, treasurer of MSR&PC. “Not only is there a lot of potential to bring U.S. and Minnesota-origin soybeans and soybean meal here, but also to increase their soy usage overall.”

A meeting with Ambassador Henick

Uzbekistan currently imports about 300,000 metric tons of soybean meal annually, most of which comes from Kazakhstan and Argentina, but the actual need is about 1.2 million metric tons. Bringing those soybeans from the U.S. to Uzbekistan has some hurdles logistically, including a need for more rail hopper cars to facilitate transport of larger import of U.S.-origin soy, and for USDA to qualify Uzbekistan for several programs they offer, such as GSM

credit guarantees on the actual soy purchases and facilities guarantees to aid them in constructing a large soy crush plant.

To help clear some hurdles, the group of farmer leaders traveled to the Uzbekistan capital of Tashkent, where they visited with U.S. Ambassador to Uzbekistan Jonathan Henick. The ambassador met privately with MSR&PC directors prior to attending the AgroWorld Expo and then invited them to participate in a roundtable discussion and traditional Iftar dinner at his residence later that evening.

“We are very grateful for the amount of time the ambassador spent with us. He was very receptive,” Frisch said. “We had great discussions about some of the logistical hurdles we still have for bringing soybeans from the U.S. to Uzbekistan and some of the ways he could help us.”

The crux

The Iftar dinner during this trade mission also provided an opportunity for the various soybean users to network and discuss opportunities to work together and options for purchasing the highquality U.S. soymeal.

Just as farmer leaders returned home to prep for the 2024 growing season, the Council’s checkoff investments paid off when five containers of U.S.origin soy totaling 130 metric tons were sold to Uzbekistan. The purchases can be directly tracked back to the Council’s efforts and checkoff investments.

Cultivating relationships makes all the difference.

“The completion of this sale is a credit to the Council team and their vision in seeing the potential in the Uzbekistan market,” Nill said. “There’s no replacing an in-country visit to grow a relationship.”

MAY - JUNE - 2024 - Soybean Business - 37
Directors Ben Storm (left) and Gene Stoel (right) examine the quality of the Kazakhstan-origin soybeans at a feed meal in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

Driven to deliver

CHS Fairmont grows convenience, adds value for farmers

Rochelle Krusemark still remembers driving 70 miles to Mankato and waiting for hours in line at the CHS processing plant to sell soybeans and buy meal for their farrow to finish hog operation. Options were limited back then for her and her husband, Brad, who own a century crop, hog and cattle farm near Trimont.

All that changed in 2003 when CHS finished a state-of-theart soybean processing plant in Fairmont, cutting her drive time to 20 minutes, improving soybean prices and bringing new jobs to the area.

“Now we can deliver beans, pick up a load of soybean meal and be back home in an hour if there’s no line,” said Krusemark, a director with the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council since 2014. “They get all of our soybeans because they’ve earned it.”

The convenience, economic impact and high local demand were the main reasons community leaders lobbied CHS to choose the Fairmont area for its 200-acre facility. Fairmont is in Martin County, which is the largest producer of pork and ranks in the top 10 for soybean production in Minnesota. Its proximity to the Mankato plant helped seal the deal since that

refinery had just upgraded its capacity to process more oil.

“It just makes sense for us to be here,” said CHS Fairmont Director of Production Brandon Nordstrom, who grew up on a farm near Krusemark. “We welcome an average of 300 trucks per day and can crush up to 215,000 bushels. Most of our soybeans come from a 60-mile radius and 40 percent of the meal we process stays here to feed local livestock and poultry.”

24/7 operations

Today, the CHS Fairmont facility processes approximately 72 million bushels of soybeans annually making it one of the largest crush plants in the U.S. This translates to 1.5 million tons of soybean meal, 150,000 tons of soybean hulls and 825 million pounds of crude oil each year. Since they only crush soybeans, the crude oil is transported to Mankato where it’s refined further for food uses, biodiesel and creating epoxidized plastics.

In addition to meeting the needs of local producers, the facility has expanded market access and improved prices for soybeans.

“I remember times when soybean prices here would be one to two dollars under basis,” Nordstrom said.

CHS’ Fairmont soybean processing facility produces 150,000 tons of soybean hulls each year. Photos courtesy of CHS Inc.

• Built in 2003, expanded in 2023

• Covers 200 acres

• Serves 300 trucks on average daily

• Processes 72 million bushels of soybeans annually

• Produces 825 million pounds of crude soybean oil annually Crushes 1.5 million tons of soybean meal annually

• Ships 7,500 hopper-bottom meal cars annually

• Capacity to store 9 million bushels

38 - Soybean Business - MAY - JUNE - 2024
Checkoff Feature

“Now contracts are much more competitive, and they have access to bigger markets like California, the southeastern U.S. and Latin America.”

The benefits to soybean farmers don’t stop there. The plant is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, which gives them the flexibility to transport and pick up products on their timelines. Krusemark is also a fan of digital access that allows her to look up prices, place bids, accept contracts and download important documents like assembly sheets and proof of yields with just a click.

“They’ve also installed a camera system so we can see via an app on our phones how busy it is before we go. Last week, Brad logged in and saw there was no line, so he took a load over that day,” said Krusemark. “They really do a nice job of making everything quick and easy for farmers.”

Beyond the farm, CHS impacts local communities by employing more than 50 people and hosting students and groups for career pathing and education. The company gives back through donations to local parks to make them wheelchair accessible, sponsoring farm safety education and encouraging team members to volunteer for youth leadership and local food program activities. CHS is also a founding and ongoing sponsor of the Kiwanis Holiday Lights in Mankato, which brings the magic of Christmas to life for thousands of families across the region every year.

The plant also maintains a strong commitment to environmental stewardship through reduced emissions, water conservation and recycling, which has virtually eliminated impact on local landfills.

“We work hard to keep our customers happy, and it shows,” Nordstrom said. “We continue to receive positive feedback and experience high demand. It’s why we renovated our plant in 2021 and expanded capacity by 30 percent. It’s an honor to be able to grow alongside our customers.”

MAY - JUNE - 2024 - Soybean Business - 39

Leopold Conservation Award comes to Minnesota

A prestigious award program that celebrates voluntary conservation efforts on farms and forestland is coming to Minnesota.

The Leopold Conservation Award honors farmers and forestland owners who excel in their management of soil health, water quality and wildlife habitat on working land. The award recognizes landowners who inspire others with their dedication to environmental improvement. Nominations may be submitted on behalf of a landowner, or landowners may apply themselves.

The Minnesota application can be found at Applications are reviewed by an independent panel of agricultural and conservation leaders from Minnesota. The application deadline date is July 1, 2024. Applications must be emailed to The award recipient receives $10,000, and their conservation success story will be featured in a video and in other outreach.

Save the Date: 2024 Biodiesel Open

The Minnesota Soybean Growers Association is swinging into action and teeing up the return of the annual Biodiesel Open on Monday, Aug. 19, at the Crow River Golf Club in Hutchinson. Individual player fees start at $130, while a four-person team costs $125 per participant. Hole sponsorships are also available. The registration fee includes 18 holes of golf, cart, dinner and drink tickets.

Biodiesel Open Schedule

• 11 a.m. Registration

• Noon Shotgun start

• 5 p.m. Dinner

To register, visit

The Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council is a proud sponsor of the Biodiesel Open.

MN begins seventh year of B20

Now in its seventh year since the B20 requirements were enacted, the state of Minnesota has made its transition toward a 20-percent biodiesel blend (B20) during the summer months. Between the months of October through March, the state of Minnesota requires all diesel to contain at least 5% biodiesel (B5), from April 1-14, all diesel must contain at least 10% (B10) biodiesel. From April 15-Sept. 30, all diesel must contain a 20% biodiesel blend.

The state of Minnesota has remained a leader in biodiesel since legislation was first enacted in 2005 that required a 2% biodiesel blend, which was upped to 5% in 2009 and 10% in 2014. In 2018, Minnesota became the first state to enact a B20 minimum blending requirement.

Using a B20 blend in the summer and B5 in the winter equates to removing the emissions from nearly a quarter of a million vehicles from Minnesota roads every year. Biodiesel contributes nearly $1.7 billion toward Minnesota’s GDP and supports nearly 5,400 full time jobs in the state. Minnesota produces approximately 85 million gallons of biodiesel annually through plants in Albert Lea, Brewster and Isanti.

Biodiesel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50% and displaces roughly 130 million gallons of petroleum diesel in Minnesota each year. Using a B20 blend in the summer and a B5 blend in the winter equates to removing the emissions from nearly a quartermillion vehicles from state roads every year.

NW MN counties use soy checkoff resources to

give back

The Norman County Soybean & Corn Growers and their checkoff dollars continued their support of the Rural Enrichment and Counseling Headquarters (REACH) by donating hams to help those struggling with hunger during the holiday season.

Pork products such as ham and Minnesota soybeans go hand in hand. Soybean meal makes up 42% of the meal fed to livestock, and an estimated 1.25 million tons of soybean meal are required to feed all of Minnesota’s pigs.

The Marshall County Soybean & Corn Growers and their checkoff dollars are supporting local food shelves in Argyle, Grygla-Gatzke, Strandquist and Warren. The farmers’ contributions will help feed individuals and families in need.

Red River Farm Network gains new affiliate in SW MN

The Red River Farm Network has gained its newest radio affiliate, KWOA AM 730, in Worthington, Minn. KWOA covers southwest Minnesota, northwest Iowa and southeast South Dakota. RRFN champions hometown radio stations that understand the value of serving their community and the importance of agriculture. Red River Farm Network, which helps promote Minnesota Soybean’s checkoff and policy activities, now supports more than 20 affiliates across the Northern Plains.

40 - Soybean Business - MAY - JUNE - 2024
Checkoff News



The Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA) is the nation’s premier soybean association because farmers and agri-businesses recognize the value their investment in MSGA brings. Here are two examples of MSGA members who actively promote Minnesota’s soybean industry.

Rice County farmer Brent Fuchs is a member of his local Dakota-Rice County Corn & Soybean Growers board.

As a farmer leader and community member, he’s proud of his county’s support of the Minnesota Ag in the Classroom program.

“It’s a lot of us just trying to get students’ heads wrapped around where did their lunch come from today,” Fuchs said. “The answer isn’t the grocery store. They’ve never put any thought into it because why would they? Nobody’s questioned them or made them think critically about it.”

The board shows students what the commodities are used for. Part two of the event involves taking students to local farms.


Brent currently farms with his wife, Jennifer, their children and his dad, Doug, on their third-generation family farm. Fuchs works at Edney Distributing and attended North Dakota State College of Science in the John Deere Ag Tech Program.

Fuchs has served on his county board for almost 10 years after former Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council Chair Keith Schrader suggested he join. Fuchs’ participation at the local level led to his membership with MSGA.

“I’m a member because there’s so few of us left in production agriculture. You have less than 2% of the population for help for anything (and) to have that collaborative voice,” Fuchs said. “I don’t have time to run out to Washington D.C., and fight for anything, and we need all the help we can get.”

Inspired by his capability to feed people with crops that he grows, Noah Hultgren knew he wanted to farm full time on his fourthgeneration family farm.

Hultgren farms soybeans, corn, sugar beets, kidney beans, alfalfa, sweet corn and peas with his wife, Paula; their children Ella, Samantha and Hannah; his parents, Duane and Nancy Hultgren; brother Nate Hultgren and his family.

It’s a family affair.

“We are lucky enough to live on the same farm site as my parents and brother’s family,” Hultgren said. “It’s almost like our own little village.”

Hultgren says they have an outlook for a fifth generation to take over the family farm.


On top of farming full time, Hultgren graduated from St. Cloud Technical College with a two-year degree in Sales and Management. He’s also a licensed real estate broker.

When he’s not in the field or on the farm working, he’s volunteering with the Kandiyohi County Corn & Soybean Growers board, the Bethesda Foundation Board and Kandiyohi County Economic Development Committee Operations Board. He also sat on the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) for nine years and served as president from 2014-15.

“I am a member of MSGA, along with MCGA, because I feel strongly that these organizations are good advocates for agriculture and rural Minnesota,” Hultgren said.

42 - Soybean Business - MAY - JUNE - 2024

MSGA Members Meet the Moment!

The Minnesota Soybean Growers Association thanks the more than 20 members who joined MSGA in spring 2024. We also extend heartfelt appreciation to the 187 producers, industry professionals and supporters who renewed their MSGA membership since February.

With a state and federal election looming this fall, our work continues throughout the months ahead. Our advocates and lobbying team continue their efforts in St. Paul and


Travis Duresky

Jesse Jensen

Gregg Muehler

Steve Devney

Breck Erickson

Micah Eidem

Kaleb Steele

Ethan Melberg

Jon Hillier

Dan Schmitz

Justin Grimmius

Hadley Farmers Elevator Co


Washington, D.C., to promote our policy priorities, with one clear goal in mind: protecting the profitability of Minnesota soybean farmers.

Help us keep moving agriculture forward. To become a member of the nation’s longest-running state soybean association, visit Membership levels start at just $20 for students, and a 3-year membership costs less than a quarter per day!


Daniel Groen

Justin Grimmius

Rod Scheidt

Jesse Drost

Brannon Lange

Jordon Stegenga

Brandon Langaas

Isaac Magnusson

Collin Grams

Germaine Smith

Dan Steffl

Cut on the line and return today

Name:____________________________________Date of Birth:______/________/_______

Farm/Company Name:______________________________________




3 Year Membership: $250(includes Minnesota Soybean sweatshirt and $100 biodiesel rebate)

Pullover size (circle one): S M L XL XXL XXXL

Biodiesel Coupon (Value $100)

1 Year Membership: $120

Yes I want to save $20! 1 Year Membership: $100 (with auto renew payment via credit card). By checking this option, I understand my annual membership to MSGA will renew automatically, charging the credit card on file at the time my membership expires

Young Professional (age 35 and under) & Retired: $70

Student (age 22 and under): $20

I’m a new member

Renewing member ID#____________Recruiter Name:______________


Payment information:

Check Enclosed (payable to MSGA)



Exp. Date (M/Y):____/____



Minnesota Soybean Growers Association 1020 Innovation Lane Mankato, MN 56001


Online applications also available at

MAY - JUNE - 2024 - Soybean Business - 43
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