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Local Farmer moves up on USB

FAIRMONT — Rochelle Krusemark, Martin County resident, and farmer from Trimont, was recently elected to serve on the United Soybean Board’s (USB) Executive Committee. Kruesmark is well-known in the local area, raising soybeans, corn, and hogs, as well as working as a crop insurance adjuster. She shares what the appointment means for her, along with some details on the USB’s previous achievements.

“I’ve been on the Minnesota Soybean Council for seven years, and I’m just starting my sixth year on the United Soybean Board,” she said. “There are 78 directors on that board from all the soybean-producing states. It goes by how many soybeans you produce, with the maximum number at four, and Minnesota gets four directors.

When asked about what responsibilities she will face, Krusemark said she will be helping to direct funds to various areas of interest.

“The Soybean checkoff is one half of one percent of the value of the soybeans you sell. Half of that goes to the state where the soybeans are grown, and the other half goes to the USB. The USDA oversees the plan but the checkoff pays, so it doesn’t cost taxpayers anything for the USDA to do that.

“So you can’t use any checkoff dollars for advocacy or lobbying, that has to come from the membership side. A lot of people don’t realize that there’s the checkoff side of corn, soybeans, wheat, and pork. So what we do is take the checkoff dollars and we invest that in research, promotion, and education.”

One recent project initiated by the Soybean checkoff included investing dollars into research for dredging the Mississippi River. Another result of checkoff dollars includes research into high oleic soybean oil, a win for the local area.

“We do a lot of work developing new domestic and international markets, we do economic forecasts, and communications. For example, as a member of USB, I was appointed to serve on the Soy Nutrition Institute Board (SNI).

“On the SNI we work with a lot of companies that use soy oil or soybeans in their foods. That includes doing projects with different crop institutes and universities.

“We do projects to work on new genetics that consumers want, like higher protein or weed-resistant varieties, or the high oleic soybeans which were funded first by our checkoff dollars. That’s been a win for our local area because now high oleic soybeans are grown in this area and processed here at CHS in Fairmont and refined in Mankato.

“That’ll never replace commodity soybeans but it’s a different variety that has zero trans-fats. High Oleic oil also has a higher scorch point, so you can take it up to 400 degrees without burning. Because of that higher scorch point, it lasts longer in fryers so that’s a saving for the restaurants.

“Our checkoff dollars also funded a project to use high oleic oil to replace petroleum in asphalt. When it expands and contracts, it doesn’t crack like petroleum products do. So here in Minnesota we funded a project for four years in Hutchinson, where they’ve used in overlays and new construction.”

Concerning her appointment, Krusemark stated that she has previously served on the executive committee, something she had enjoyed.

“My 78 colleagues elected me to serve on the executive committee,” she said of her most recent appointment. “I was actually on the strategic management committee last year, and the year before that I was on the executive committee.

“The executive committee meets four times a year and tries to filter out some of the decisions to present to the rest of the board. The whole board makes decisions in smaller workgroups. We’re divided into nine workgroups to make decisions on the projects that are funded.

“After our December meeting we always ask for requests for proposals, and last year we got a little over 500. So to figure out which ones we should fund, we actually have a priority list.

“This year we came up with 19 strategic imperatives to help us determine what direction we wanted to go. Then we have a long-range three to five-year strategic plan. When we divided our strategies it’s into oil, meal, sustainability, and communications, so it’s a good road map of where we should invest those checkoff dollars.”

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