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Beltrami farmer elected MSGA president

MANKATO –  After two years as vice president, Mike Skaug was named president of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association Monday during the nonpartisan’s organization first in-person board meeting in more than a year.

“I’m humbled and honored my fellow directors have put their confidence in me to lead this storied organization,” said Skaug, who’s helped lead MSGA’s advocacy strategizing in St. Paul. “I’m eager to hit the ground running to advocate for our members and promote policies that will improve the profitability outlook for Minnesota farmers.”

Skaug  is also chair of the Ag Innovation Campus in Crookston. He farms alongside his son, Ryan, on their fifth-generation farm in Polk County. He joined the MSGA board in 2012 and later served as treasurer before becoming vice president in 2019. Skaug replaces Jamie Beyer, who stepped down after two years as president.

“I have big shoes to fill,” Skaug said. “Jamie has a lot of talent and has done such a great job of explaining complicated issues to folks. She’s been a huge asset to MSGA.”

Beyer’s tenure was highlighted by the passage of full Section 179 conformity in October 2020 – among many other MSGA legislative wins – and helped lead MSGA’s transition to virtual advocacy following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We couldn’t have had anyone better helping us navigate the difficulties of the past year,” MSGA Executive Director Joe Smentek said. “We are so grateful to Jamie for her dedication to MSGA.”

Beyer will remain a director and was also elected to the Ag Management Solutions board, which oversees MSGA’s daily operations. She was the third female MSGA president, and the first to serve consecutive terms.

“If it wasn’t for MSGA, I would be a lot more pessimistic when it comes to the future of agriculture,” Beyer said. “I see a path forward for agriculture.”

Lincoln County farmer Bob Worth moved from treasurer to vice president. Wells farmer Darin Johnson was elected treasurer and Ryan Mackenthun of Brownton was named secretary. Strathcona grower Jim Kukowski and Brewster farmer Chris Hill were both reelected to the American Soybean Association, which advocates for growers at the federal level. Farmer leaders gave ASA Chair and former President Bill Gordon a standing ovation during his final board meeting before he retires from ASA at the end of the year. He will be replaced by Adam Guetter, a Redwood County farmer and past ASA Young Leader.

“When it comes to policy,” said Gordon, who previously served as MSGA vice president, “Minnesota always rises to the top.”

Former MSGA President Paul Freeman, who was elected earlier this year to the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council, is leaving MSGA after more than a decade on the board.

MSGA is the nation’s oldest soybean advocacy organization and the first affiliate of the American Soybean Association. Fueled by its grassroots membership base since 1962, MSGA will celebrate its 60th anniversary in 2022. On Tuesday, MSGA directors will gather at North Links Golf Course in North Mankato for the annual Biodiesel Open fundraiser.

“We’ve built a reputation of having a great team, great lobbyists,” Skaug said. “I’m looking forward to the year ahead.”


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