Don ‘Mr. Soybean’ Heil inducted into Mo. Soybean Hall of Fame

NORBORNE, Mo. – The Missouri Soybean Hall of Fame inducted its first member, a Norborne farmer known as “Mr. Soybean.”

The late Donald W. Heil, a lifelong farmer in the Missouri River bottoms of Carroll County, earned honors as an international promoter of soybean, said Bill Wiebold, University of Missouri Extension soybean specialist.

Wiebold, director of the Missouri Soybean Center, announced Heil’s induction April 5 at the second annual U.S. Soybean Symposium on the MU campus. He said Heil became a valued mentor and friend when Wiebold joined the MU faculty.

Heil, who died in 1995, helped to establish the Missouri Soybean Association and the first Missouri and national soybean checkoffs to fund soybean research and use. The Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council formed to manage the checkoff. Heil served on the council during its first 12 years.

He served as president of the American Soybean Development Foundation, which helped allocate soybean checkoff dollars for research, promotion and international market expansion. He was a founding member of the United Soybean Board, an officer of the American Soybean Association and representative on the National Soy Diesel Development Board, which later became the National Biodiesel Board.

In 1982, he and others organized the Norborne Soybean Festival and promoted Norborne as the “Soybean Capital of the World.” He was the festival’s first “King Soybean.”

Heil was on the state MU Extension Council and a supporter of extension and FFA programs. He helped develop the Agricultural Leaders of Tomorrow (ALOT) program and served on its advisory board.

Heil began farming in 1946 after attending MU and serving as a navigator in the Army Air Corps. He was early adopter of land grading to improve surface drainage and water management of northern Missouri farmland.

“His spirit and passion continue today in those he mentored and inspired,” Wiebold said. “Don was a humble family man and farmer who helped shape the soybean industry as we know it today. But to him, it was always about helping his fellow farmers.”

Learn more about the U.S. Soybean Symposium at