Missouri Soybean opens doors to new Center for Soy Innovation

By Missouri Soybean | March 10, 2020

The Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council’s efforts to drive research and education for all things soy are starting 2020 by “leveling up” through new opportunities through the new Center for Soybean Innovation. Following its March 5 grand opening, the Center stands to connect developments in soybean innovation with farmers and industry partners, as well as the community.

“This is bringing our number one crop and our soybean research to people in a very real way, communicating the impact soybean have on our lives every day,” said MSMC chairman Robert Alpers. “The Center for Soybean Innovation is our answer to ‘Who and what are we going to be to the farmers of Missouri for the next 20 years?’ and we're very proud of this path forward.”

The Center for Soybean Innovation brings together many organizations working with and on behalf of Missouri’s soybean growers in one location, including the Missouri Soybean Association and Merchandising Council, the Biodiesel Coalition of Missouri and Foundation for Soy Innovation, as well as the administrative functions for farmer-owned biodiesel plants, Missouri Farmers Care and the Ag Education on the Move program.

The facility showcases soy-based building materials and demonstrates new uses for soybean, from soy-based counter tops, flooring and insulation to turf, asphalt sealant and a biodiesel-fueled heating system. The center further serves as a hub for business development and incubation, as well as value-added agriculture.

“There's no other facility like this bringing together education center and conference space with the Missouri-based research and commercialization work on environmentally friendly, soy-based products,” Alpers said. “We look forward to hosting school groups, hands-on trainings, workshops and events—better serving soybean farmers, and better connecting with people who might not have strong personal ties to agriculture.”

The center’s grand opening celebration featured tours of the facility, and a group photo captured by drone—complete with a ribbon cutting thanks to the Jefferson City Chamber of Commerce ambassadors. Soy doughnuts, a longtime tradition of the organization, were served, paired with milk courtesy of Midwest Dairy and Jefferson City’s Central Dairy.

The events were hosted by Alpers and MSA president Ronnie Russell of Richmond, and included congratulatory remarks from Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, American Soybean Association CEO Ryan Findlay and the United Soybean Board’s Mace Thornton, vice president of communications and marketing. MSMC’s immediate past-chairman, John Kelley of Faucett, asked a blessing on the project.

“Missouri Soybean has a foundation of farmers coming together to solve problems, from developing markets for beans to ensuring farmers’ freedom to operate,” Russell said. “This is both a celebration of that rich history and a huge step forward in growing our relationships with all who rely on soy—our mighty bean—through innovation, advocacy and education.”

The center was built on land purchased by the MSA to support the project. The nearly 5-acre tract in western Jefferson City was previously owned by the Stockman family, and has strong agricultural roots, having been the site of both a railroad spur and anhydrous plant.

The MSA and MSMC broke ground on the project in July 2018. The soybean organizations’ boards of directors and staff worked closely with Jefferson City-based The Architects Alliance to develop the building concept, design plans and scout locations.

MSMC is a statewide, farmer-led organization working to improve opportunities for Missouri soybean farmers though a combination of research, outreach, education and market development efforts supported by the soy checkoff. MSA has been soybean growers’ voice on policy for more than 50 years.

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