Wood County Soybean Farmer
Andy Stickel continually works to modernize his family’s multi-generational farm to make it more diverse and sustainable. In addition to growing corn, soybeans, wheat, alfalfa, and tomatoes, they also raise cattle, plant cover crops for living coverage and soil enrichment, and run a custom hay and straw business.
Because much of their operation is so diverse and focuses on being good environmental stewards of the land, the Stickel family name is well-known in the world of agriculture. Their farming operation received the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association 2019 Environmental Steward Award and has been highlighted for its sustainable practices many times over. They also frequently open their farm up for tours, through GrowNextGen and other programs, showcasing ag life, the technology they use, and what it takes to run a successful operation.
Q. WHY DO YOU BELIEVE IN THE OHIO SOYBEAN COUNCIL?
I think the checkoff is valuable for us as growers. We’re essentially funding our own research and opportunities for market expansion. That’s extremely valuable and gives us a vested interest. Some people may see it as dollars coming out of their checks, but in today’s world, the more things we can do to help, the better off we’re going to be.
Q. HOW IS THE OHIO SOYBEAN COUNCIL DRIVING THE MARKET FOR YOUR SOYBEANS?
From a profitability standpoint, we need to have uses for our product. The Ohio Soybean Council is constantly working on things that will help drive demand. Whether that is food-grade soybeans, soybeans used for crushing and animal feed, or soybeans used for another new use, we have to have demand. The soybean checkoff continues to develop those markets and that is a big driver for me. They are making sure we have end users, different processes, and sustainable, environmentally-friendly products that showcase our soybeans from a renewable energy standpoint. That’s the profitability side for me. If we don’t have anybody to use our products, it doesn’t matter how much we produce.
Q. HOW DOES THE PLANT RESEARCH THE CHECKOFF HELPS FUND IMPACT YOU?
I know the Ohio Soybean checkoff funds tons of research. What I think is valuable is the ideas and things that come about from the research. I might try something on a small scale or practice because of the research they put out.
Q. HOW IS GROWNEXTGEN IMPACTING THE SOYBEAN INDUSTRY?
I’ve hosted some virtual farm tours and think it is an extremely valuable program. I think it is a wonderful way to showcase agriculture as a whole and more specifically soy production. There is a ton of value in reaching young people. I just find it interesting how many people aren’t aware of all the opportunities and possible jobs in agriculture. Growing the actual product is one thing, but helping people grasp the concept that you can be in a role in another company that influences agriculture is also important. It is so broad.
You don’t have to be on the farm to be in ag.
Q. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE NEW USES FOR SOYBEANS BEING DEVELOPED?
This is a prime example of why the checkoff is so important. Barry and his crew at Airable Research Lab – those guys are top-of-the-line. They are specialists in that area. Those things would never cross my mind. It’s not what I do. As we develop these new technologies, I just keep thinking “what will they come up with next?”.