Soybean board commits to SDSU research hub

Capitol News Bureau

FILE – In this July 18, 2018, photo, soybean farmer Michael Petefish holds soybeans from last season’s crop at his farm near Claremont in southern Minnesota. China’s government says its importers are inquiring about prices for American soybeans and pork in a possible goodwill gesture ahead of talks aimed at ending a tariff war with Washington. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota Soybean Council directors tentatively promised $2.5 million Friday to the bio-products institute that South Dakota State University officials plan off-campus in Brookings.

The contributions would be spread in $500,000 increments over five years through fiscal 2026.

The Legislature gave $20 million this year to the $30 million project and promised $500,000 toward annual operating expenses.

SDSU officials met with the Soybean Council earlier this week about pitching in. The ‘yes’ came Friday morning.

Director Jason Frerichs of Wilmot, a former state legislator, said the council putting money into the project would answer a question he’s heard from other lawmakers about what agriculture producers’ boards do with their checkoff money.

“Now it’s our turn as a checkoff board to be involved,” he said.

Frerichs attached two conditions. He wants a soybean grower on the institute’s board and wants consideration for naming rights.

Soybeans should have a significant role in the institute’s research, Frerichs said. For example, he hopes to see development of a degradable net wrap for bales.

Several directors said the council still needs clearance from its national soybean board.

The vote was 6-2 to spend the money.

Council treasurer Dawn Scheier of Salem and director Michael McCranie of Claremont spoke against it.

Scheier said she didn’t like stretching payments out to 2026 and leaving future councils believe it was a commitment that must be honored.

“I really feel uncomfortable with that,” Scheier said. “Fiscal responsibility, the way I understand it, is one year at a time.”

McCranie tried to get the topic tabled. He was ruled out of order because he made remarks before the tabling motion. He too disliked the five-year payment schedule.

“I hate putting this out for future boards,” McCranie said.

Other directors spoke in favor.

“I think it’s a good idea,” Heather Beaner of Mellette said.

“I think this aligns really well with our strategic plan,” said Craig Converse of Brookings.

“To be on the front side of this would be important to the soybean community,” vice chair David Struck of Wolsey said.

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