Tim Clark grows soybeans, corn, alfalfa and winter wheat, and raises beef cattle, with his family in Lomira, Wis. Despite his busy schedule, Clark found time to step away for a week last summer to learn about the soy checkoff and how checkoff funds work for him.
Clark was selected as one of 10 U.S. soybean farmers from across the country to participate in the soy checkoff’s 2012 See for Yourself program. Tours of facilities in St. Louis and Mexico gave Clark a firsthand look at how and where his soybeans are being used both domestically and internationally. He also had the opportunity to evaluate specific, checkoff-funded research and promotional activities. Clark recently discussed what he learned from participating and why he believes every U.S. soybean farmer should apply for See for Yourself in 2013.
Q: Did you learn anything that surprised you?
A: I couldn’t believe the number of food products we saw in Mexico that were soy-based or fortified with soy. It amazed me that everyday foods such as yogurt, tortillas and cheese were being fortified with soy to help improve the diets of the Mexican people. To me, that is a sign of a proactive culture, with a priority on supplying an abundant and health-conscious food supply.
Q. Why did you decide to apply for the See for Yourself program?
A: I wanted to know where my checkoff dollars were going. Before See for Yourself, I didn’t know how the checkoff worked, or at least how it worked beyond the funds taken from each load of soybeans we delivered to our local elevator. As a young soybean farmer, I felt it was time to get the full story and see first-hand where my investment was being used.
Q: What did you find out?
A: I thought the program was very informative. It showed us what our checkoff dollars are doing, both in the U.S. and Mexico, by putting us in direct contact with our customers. The program highlighted the opportunities for new-market growth and it reassured me that our global customers are appreciative and hungry for more of our soybeans. My experience with the program and new relationships with checkoff staff and other program participants has given me a very positive attitude when I see the amount of funds I’m investing through the soy checkoff.
Q. What would you say to farmers who are thinking about applying for the program in 2013?
A: If you want to see a completely different side of soybeans and really understand where your checkoff dollars are going, you’ve got to participate in this program. You must invest in yourself and apply for the program because the soy checkoff is willing to invest in you. The opportunity to meet with industry leaders and nine other U.S. soybean farmers is tremendous. This is one program that you must See for Yourself.