WSA sets 2023 agenda, elects new president

Categories: WSAPublished On: February 2, 20233 min read

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WISCONSIN DELLS – The Wisconsin Soybean Association (WSA) Board of Directors elected new leadership, set its 2023 vision, announced the winners of its Soybean Yield Contest and honored past directors during the organization’s Annual Meeting Thursday as part of the annual Wisconsin Corn-Soy Expo at Kalahari Resort.

The farmer-led board elected Sara Stelter to serve as president. Stelter was elevated after serving two years as vice president under President Steve Trzebiatowski.

“I’ve been so thankful that Steve was at the helm. He’s so calm and has such a good overall perspective,” said Stelter, who also represents the Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board on the United Soybean Board. “He did a fantastic job as president.”

Stelter, who farms in central Wisconsin, said she looks forward to collaborating with WSA’s officer team, which includes Vice President Doug Rebout, Secretary Daniel Linse and Treasurer Matt Rehberg, who was elected to another term as District 1 director.

“I look forward to implementing our strategic plan and incorporating a team approach,” she said. “We have a great board at WSA, and the organization works best when we’re leading in the same direction.”

After six years on the board, District 4 Director Tony Mellenthin stepped off WSA to focus on his role overseeing the national checkoff program with USB. Emily Carolan (District 1) and Matt Karls (District 2) retired from their spots on WSA. Dave Coggins was appointed to replace Carolan as an Industry Director, and the board elected Rock County’s Evan Dalldorf to fill the board’s other industry position. WSA is still seeking to fill one vacant director role.

“We work well together, and we contribute well together,” Trzebiatowski said. “I look forward to good things in the future. We made leaps and bounds in the right direction.”

Trzebiatowski will remain a director and said Stelter’s deep knowledge of farm policy will benefit WSA in the year ahead.

“I’m so happy for Sara,” he said. “She has a lot of experience and will do a great job.”

Getting the job done

Through a grassroots process, WSA passed its 2023 policy resolutions on legislation related to:

  • Tax reform
  • Infrastructure
  • Conservation
  • Biodiesel
  • Creating a grain indemnity fund
  • Animal agriculture
  • Supporting aquaculture
  • Crop insurance
  • Improving market access

The resolutions are a legislative roadmap for the year ahead and will be brought for consideration at the American Soybean Association’s (ASA) Annual Meeting in March during Commodity Classic.

Trade Advocate Jordan Lamb, who represents WSA in Madison, delivered a legislative update. Wisconsin is one of the few states with a divided legislature, but Lamb predicted agriculture-related bills at the state capital will largely enjoy broad bipartisan support.

“If (the farm groups) stick together, we’ll get a lot done,” she said.

The 2023-2024 legislative session began Jan. 3. Throughout the session, WSA will prioritize supporting higher blends of biofuels and voluntary conversation programs, along with advocating for taxes, rural transportation upgrades and farmland preservation. In March and July, WSA leaders will hold its Hill Visits with lawmakers in Madison. The group heads to Washington, D.C., Feb. 28-March 2 for meetings with legislators during ASA’s board meeting. WSA also marks 50 years of advocacy in 2023.

Moving forward

The board honored the late Robert “Bob” Karls, the longtime executive director who died in April 2022.

“Bob would be happy that we’re starting to move forward,” Trzebiatowski said. “As tough as it’s been, it’s been good to have good people to lean on.”

Retired Director Chuck Prellwitz was also recognized for his 30 years of service to the organization at the state and national level.

“I’ve put in my time and enjoyed every minute of it,” he said.