Soybean Perspectives: Checkoff Board Members Reflect on 2022

As we get ready to close the books on 2022, now seems like a good opportunity for us to reflect on the year that was and get ready for a bright and promising 2023.

Jason Frerichs (District 8, Chairman)
Heather Beaner (District 9, Secretary)
Tim Ostrem (District 2, Director)

To help facilitate this process, we caught up with three South Dakota Soybean Research & Promotion Council board members — Jason Frerichs (District 8, Chairman), Heather Beaner (District 9, Secretary) and Tim Ostrem (District 2, Director) — to gain some first-hand perspective on checkoff developments over the past year.

As you look back on this year, which soybean checkoff developments stand out to you?

JF: The investment in Port of Grays Harbor in the PNW, or Pacific Northwest; in terms of soybean meal export, that is one of the biggest investments that we have made that should pay the dividends in the near future.

Also our recent $40,000 investment in Feeding South Dakota provided nutritious pork that is available at food pantries throughout our state demonstrates the effect that soybean farmers can have on our communities.

HB: A lot of things come to mind. We've done so many things that are really consumer-driven: soy-based tires in partnership with Goodyear, Skechers has soy-based shoe soles, we put soy-based asphalt sealant down in the Badlands and in Sioux Falls.

TO: Some of the research projects and soil health initiatives we help support through our checkoff are benefiting all South Dakota farmers. It's amazing that we've gotten yields as good as they are even though we've had very limited rainfall, but that comes back to the technology and practices we’re promoting through South Dakota Soybean.

What is on the horizon for soybean growers that excites you the most?

HB: I'm looking forward to the result of some of the research that we've been doing through the North Central Soybean Research Program, which is a 13-state member board that covers the majority of key soybean-producing states. Some of these larger projects are geared at getting farmers better products and information to manage pests, to manage disease, to increase yield, to have better tools on their farm — anything that can increase our soybean yields.

TO: I would say that the new proposed plan in Mitchell to expand the processing of soybeans for meal and oil is a huge win for us. I'm excited about the prospect of that actually coming to fruition.

JF: I continue to be excited about the sustainable aviation fuel. It helps further emphasize and promote the sustainable production in terms of how we raise our soybeans here in the United States, and especially in South Dakota. Time will tell if that comes fruition, but it looks as though that will be our ticket to the next new market for soybeans.

How can farmers get more involved in the work of their checkoff?

HB: We have opportunities that are listed on our website for different trainings, trips, seminars and workshops. We do one at South Dakota State University called SOY 100 in March that brings the industry and leadership together. It’s a real valuable opportunity to connect with leaders in the industry.

JF: There are many ways that soybean farmers can dialogue with my fellow board members and our staff. We always strive to make the best decisions when it comes to investing checkoff dollars, but we welcome input and questions from fellow farmers.

TO: Whenever a board member completes their term, there's an opportunity for any farmer in that district to run for the Research and Promotion Council board and make decisions on how we spend our checkoff dollars and how we invest them to best benefit soybean farmers in our state.

Responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.