Soybean Checkoff prepares for year of challenges and opportunities
The United Soybean Board concluded its annual board meeting Dec. 14. Farmer-leaders of the soybean checkoff elected a new chairman, Chuck Myers, who farms in Lyons, Neb., to lead the soybean checkoff.
"It is an honor to be elected USB chairman by my friends and peers," says Myers. "The members of our board will continue to address challenges facing soybean farmers. Together we will work to make 2009 a successful year for all U.S. soybean farmers."
Helping Myers lead the board are: Vice Chairman Phil Bradshaw, a soybean farmer from Griggsville, Ill.; Secretary Terry Ecker, Elmo, Mo.; Treasurer Marc Curtis, Leland, Miss.; Todd Allen, who farms in West Memphis, Ark.; Lewis Bainbridge, from Ethan, S. D.; Jim Call, who farms in Madison, Minn.; Vanessa Kummer, who farms in Colfax, N. D.; Rick Stern, who farms in Cream Ridge, N. J.; Jim Stillman, who farms in Emmetsburg, Iowa; and Ike Boudreaux, who farms in Lebeau, La.
Despite several severe soybean production challenges, many opportunities for profit existed in 2008. According to a recent producer attitudes survey, 74 percent of soybean farmers strongly support the soybean checkoff. Other key accomplishments include:
--U.S. soybean production has grown to nearly 3 billion bushels in 2008 from 1.98 billion bushels in 1991 according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
--Soy exports grew to a record 1.5 billion bushels, or $12 billion in value.
--Soy biodiesel use has grown from 25 million gallons in 2002 to between 650 million and 700 million gallons in 2008, according to the National Biodiesel Board.
"We have a year of opportunity ahead of us and plan to keep building on the partnerships we have with our industry partners," states Myers.
Examples of these partnerships include:
--Expanded use of soy foam in the Ford Motor Company automobile lineup.
--Support of the U.S. poultry and livestock industries, our No. 1 customer.
--Continued partnering with state soybean checkoff boards to build demand for soybean farmers.
--Working with land grant universities to create tools that help identify, manage and protect soybean fields from yield-robbing diseases and pests.
In mid-December, the U.S. soybean industry partners, stakeholders and experts came together for CONNECTIONS 2008 to decide the issues that are critical to plotting U.S. soy's global positioning strategy for the next 3 to 5 years. The top key issues identified included:
--The continued need for research to improve the value of U.S. soybeans.
--Positively telling the story of U.S. soy in a manner consumers will understand and trust. The importance of supporting the livestock and poultry industries and maintaining their right to produce in the United States.
Allegations regarding the mismanagement of farmers' checkoff dollars were also brought to the board's attention.
"We are proud our prudent investments of checkoff funds have helped build the domestic and international utilization of U.S. soybeans to nearly 3 billion bushels per year," says Myers. "USB welcomes a USDA Office of Inspector General audit of any and all of its operations, contractor operations and projects. Although we will not do so here, we will respond to the OIG with respect to all of the allegations raised by ASA."
To learn more about how USB and the soybean checkoff program operate, visit www.unitedsoybean.org, the only official website of USB and the soybean checkoff program.
USB is made up of 68 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. Checkoff funds are invested in the areas of animal utilization, human utilization, industrial utilization, industry relations, market access and supply. As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff.