WSA celebrates 50 years; Stelter reelected president

Categories: WSA, WSPPublished On: February 7, 20244.2 min read

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Fifty years of soybean advocacy deserved a fitting celebration, and a yearlong celebration is exactly what the Wisconsin Soybean Association (WSA) needed to kick off its new vision and direction. 

On the evening prior to its annual meeting during the Wisconsin Corn·Soy Expo, the WSA welcomed farmer leaders, members and industry partners to the Kalahari Conference Center for a reception honoring the organization’s half-century advocating in the policy halls of Madison and Washington, D.C.

“It was a wonderful event to highlight what WSA has done on behalf of the soybean industry in Wisconsin and to thank our supporters who helped make this happen,” WSA President Sara Stelter said. “This anniversary also gave us a chance to look at what we can accomplish in the future.”

The celebration included a director’s cut of the 50th Anniversary video series, which WSA created in partnership with Brownfield Ag. 

“I really enjoyed seeing the project come to life,” Stelter said. “We looked at the past, at advocacy, at WSMB’s research work, at membership and into the future.” 

As part of WSA’s 50th anniversary, the organization also sent out a special-edition magazine to soybean farmers in Wisconsin. “Soy Forward” dug into the stories and businesses that have helped advance soybean farming in the state. 

Former WSA President Steve Trzebiatowski said he was pleased by the turnout. 

“We’ve come so far in such a short amount of time,” he said. “I’m excited about the possibilities and where we’re going to go.” 

A special guest appeared for the reception and Thursday’s board meeting: Josh Gackle, a North Dakota farmer who serves as president of the American Soybean Association (ASA), recognized the legislative achievements of WSA. Wisconsin became an ASA state affiliate in 1973, the same year WSA formed to protect the interest of the state’s soybean farmers.

“(ASA) is only as effective as our partnerships with our state organizations,” Gackle said. “Wisconsin is an example of an influential group at the national level, too. Your directors show up, are engaged and provide leadership for Wisconsin in D.C.”

Stelter reelected

With Wisconsin’s legislative session wrapping up within weeks, WSA finalized its 2024 legislative agenda during the annual meeting. Through a grassroots process that welcomes input from all active members, WSA approved 2024 resolutions, including policies related to:

• Infrastructure
• Conservation
• Crop protection
• Biodiesel
• Trade policy
• Animal agriculture
• Improving market access
• Protecting the soybean checkoff

“We’re becoming a much more active organization,” said Stelter, who farms in Waushara County and grows soybeans, corn, beef and processed vegetables for canning companies. “I think that’s been noticed over the past year.”

Stelter earned the confidence of her peers on the board. As such, she was reelected with unanimous approval to serve a second year as WSA president.

“It’s an honor to have the endorsement of my colleagues,” she said. ‘I’m pleased with the work we’ve done together and look forward to seeing how we can continue to improve in the year ahead.”

WSA’s officer team, which includes Vice President Doug Rebout, Treasurer Matt Rehberg and Secretary Daniel Linse, remains unchanged.

“We have a fantastic board that brings together a lot of different viewpoints,” Stelter said.

The board elected Katie Kaczor as one of WSA’s industry directors. Kaczor replaces Evan Dalldorf, who departed the board after one year. But he packed a lot into a single year, including participating in WSA’s Hill Visits with ASA in Washington, D.C.

“It was a great experience advocating on behalf of Wisconsin’s soy industry,” said Dalldorf.

He also endeared himself to his colleagues.

“Evan made a great impact and was a great advocate,” Stelter said. “He set a high bar.”

Dalldorf first urged Kaczor to run for the position. She said the timing was right for her to take the next step in her leadership journey.

“I’m excited to step out of my comfort zone and learn from the current board members and be part of the solution,” said Kaczor, a district sales manager with Legacy Seeds.

In addition to elections, WSA also announced the creation of a political action committee (PAC) to contribute to legislative candidates who are committed to supporting farm-friendly policies.

“Starting a PAC is a good first step,” said Doug Rebout, WSA vice president. “We really need to focus on ways to have more engagement with our legislators, and this is one of those ways.”

Wisconsin will next participate in ASA’s Delegate Session at the upcoming Commodity Classic Feb. 28-March 2 in Houston. WSA directors and Don Lutz and Tanner Johnson, who represent Wisconsin on ASA, will head to Washington, D.C., from March 12-14 for ASA board meetings and Hill Visits. The full WSA board will hold its next meeting in June.

“We’re going to continue to talk about how the soybeans that Wisconsin farmers grow can be used to enhance a healthier life for all of us,” Stelter said.