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State soybean groups name leadershipState soybean groups name leadership

Growers association and research and promotion council elect leadership for the future.

July 21, 2023

6 Min Read
4 people (man, woman, woman, man) standing in front of wood-paneled wall
LOOKING TO FUTURE: Bob Worth (second from right) is ready to serve a second term as president of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association. The rest of the 2023-24 officer team includes Ryan Mackenthun (left), treasurer; Rose Wendinger, secretary; and Darin Johnson, vice president.Courtesy of Minnesota Soybean Growers Association

Living up to his name, Bob Worth is ready to take on another term as president of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association, becoming to the first MSGA president to serve multiple two-year terms.

Worth was reelected president of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association by his farmer peers during the organization’s June board meeting.

“I greatly enjoyed this past year and look forward to another year as president,” Worth says. “I love working with this board and appreciate all the hard work they put in for Minnesota soybean farmers.”

Only John Evans, MSGA’s “founding father,” who presided from 1962-67, served as president longer than Worth.

“It’s exciting for me to see where we’ve been and where we’re going,” Worth says. “I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the coming year.”

Worth has farmed for more than 50 years on his family farm in southwest Minnesota. He has volunteered as an MSGA director since 2002, serving in various capacities including vice president, secretary and treasurer. He also remains active on his county board and has become a national advocate for rural mental health.

Worth started farming with his father and now grows soybeans and corn in the Lake Benton area alongside his wife, Gail; their son, Jon; and his family. In 2022, Worth was awarded the American Soybean Association’s Outstanding Volunteer Award. Worth previously served as an ASA director and vice president, in addition to sitting on numerous ASA committees during his years on the board.

In his capacity as president, Worth and his fellow directors are joining Minnesota’s directors on ASA this month for a visit to Washington, D.C., to meet with lawmakers. MSGA also plans to return to the nation’s capital in September for visits to Capitol Hill.

Wells farmer Darin Johnson was reelected vice president, Rose Wendinger of St. James moved to secretary and Brownton farmer Ryan Mackenthun returns as treasurer.

“I’m honored to once again have the support of my fellow farmers on MSGA,” Johnson says. “It’s been a great experience the past year, and I’m excited to learn more under Bob’s leadership and mentor some of our newer directors.”

Worth has prioritized mentoring younger farmers and is optimistic about the emerging leaders on the officer team, in addition to the nine new directors who have joined MSGA in the past year.

“MSGA is a fantastic organization that is going to be great for years to come,” Worth says. “I really like the new and upcoming leaders that are coming into the mix with new ideas to move this organization to a higher scale.”

During the 2023 Minnesota legislative session, MSGA exceeded expectations by advocating for a grain indemnity fund, helping to raise the ag homestead tax credit to $3.5 million, preventing treated seed regulations, protecting biodiesel, and successfully introducing a bill that increases funding for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s international trade program. Worth says MSGA will look to build on those successes in 2024.

“We need some of our politicians to understand how important ag is to our state,” Worth says. “We’ve got to keep them educated — the more we can get them on our farms to talk agriculture, the better.”

Redwood County farmer Jeff Sorenson was elected to represent Minnesota on ASA’s board of directors to replace Joel Schreurs, whose third and final ASA term expires in December. Three of MSGA’s seven ASA directors will now hail from Redwood County.

“MSGA has a strong state presence, and I felt that — after being on the board for a few years — I wanted to step up and be an advocate for Minnesota farmers in Washington, D.C.,” says Sorenson, a graduate of ASA Young Leader’s Program. “It will be an honor to represent MSGA in D.C.”

Directors also elected members for MSGA’s governing board. Beyond the elections, directors honored past ASA President and Worthington farmer Bill Gordon, reviewed the organization’s 2023 legislative wins, received a national policy update from ASA and looked ahead to the policy outlook in 2024.

“We’re getting things done in St. Paul and D.C. that are improving farmer profitability,” Worth says. “We’re doing our part in taking care of farmers. That’s what it’s all about.”

SRPC leadership moves

The Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council tapped Traverse County farmer Tom Frisch as its chair during the organization’s June board meeting. Frisch replaces Bird Island farmer Joe Serbus, who stepped down after two years as chair.

“I’m looking forward to continuing working with an amazing group of directors. I know every one of them has the best interests in soybeans at heart,” Frisch says. “I’ve learned a lot serving as vice chair under the leadership of Joe Serbus, and those are some big shoes to fill.”

During his term overseeing the state’s soybean checkoff program, Serbus, who had served on the council since 2016, helped oversee the council’s “Driving Soy” and “Stepping Up” campaigns. The statewide promotions received national recognition by promoting the value of soy-based products through charitable donations to Minnesota sheriff’s departments and frontline health care workers.

“It’s been a great run. I want to thank everyone for the past two years, and wish Tom all the best as chair,” says Serbus, who will remain on the board and represents the council on both the Soy Transportation Coalition and the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute. “The council is in great hands under his leadership.”

Frisch, first elected to MSR&PC in 2019, is a fourth-generation farmer and partner in the farming operation alongside his father, two first cousins and his cousin’s son. The family raises soybeans, corn, sunflowers and grapes in the Dumont area.

In addition to working with the family farming operation, Frisch started his own crop consulting business after graduating from North Dakota State University in 2000 with a degree in agriculture economics. Frisch also works part-time for the local cooperative, selling seed to area producers, and is a longtime volunteer firefighter. Tom and his wife, Jane Vangsness Frisch, live 2 miles north of the original Felix Frisch and Son homestead.

“My grandfather prided himself in serving the community that had provided so much for him,” says Frisch, who also sits on the United Soybean Board. “I try to follow the same philosophy.”

Faribault farmer Gail Donkers was elected MSR&PC vice chair. The council selected Ben Storm as treasurer, while Pat Sullivan, a longtime director, will again serve as secretary.

“By showing up and being the voice of Minnesota’s soybean farmers, I hope to make a difference for not only our farm, but for all the soybean growers in Minnesota,” says Donkers, who previously served as treasurer.

Earlier this spring, directors Bill Zurn (District 1, 2 and 3), Patrick O’Leary (District 4), Sullivan (District 5 and 6), Ron Obermoller (District 7) and Rochelle Krusemark (District 8) were all reelected.

Council directors serve three-year terms, which begin July 1. The council is charged with directing state soybean checkoff resources toward research, establishing markets and developing value-added uses for soy. During the board meeting, which was held in Baxter, directors received updates from the Ag Innovation Campus, its USB directors, and discussed goals and checkoff projects for the summer and the 2024 fiscal year.

Source: Minnesota Soybean Growers Association and Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council

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