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U.S. soy strategy a team effort at conference

Emmetsburg, Iowa, soybean farmer Jim Stillman will be leading the soy checkoff for the next year, and he'll have plenty of help. Not only will Stillman, who was elected chairman on Dec. 6, 2012, have the other 68 volunteer United Soybean Board farmer-leaders to assist him, he just received strategy recommendations from nearly 400 representatives of the U.S. soy value chain.

USB recently concluded the CONNECTIONS 2012 conference and its annual meeting, two events that will help USB lead the industry forward. For two days at CONNECTIONS, industry influencers, including soybean farmer-leaders, researchers, technology companies, soy customers and many more, identified upcoming challenges and opportunities facing the industry. Those participants then planned the industry's future strategy based on those issues.

USB's annual meeting followed, and the 69-member board elected Stillman as USB's new chairman before immediately beginning to put the CONNECTIONS recommendations into action to increase profit opportunities for all U.S. soybean farmers.

"We organize CONNECTIONS to get input from as many different industry representatives as possible, which makes the results even stronger," says Stillman, who has been a checkoff farmer-leader since 2005, most recently serving as vice chair. "The next step will require even more collaboration than this one. We'll work with the entire soy value chain to implement these results in a way that will allow us all to gain."

Also at this meeting, USB transitioned from its old structure to its new one, aligning farmer-leaders directly with USB's four strategic objectives: increasing the value of U.S. soy meal and oil, maintaining farmers' freedom to operate and meeting customer needs for high-quality soy products and services. These efforts will be organized into the target areas of domestic and international opportunities, supply and communication. The following farmer-leaders will be joining Stillman on the executive committee to oversee USB's profit-building projects:

--Vice Chairman Jim Call, Madison, Minn.;

--Secretary Lewis Bainbridge, Ethan, S.D.;

--Treasurer Bob Haselwood, Berryton, Kan.

--Soy Meal Action Team Chair Russ Carpenter, Trumansburg, N.Y.;

--Soy Oil Action Team Chair Lewis Bainbridge, Ethan, S.D.;

--Freedom to Operate Action Team Chair Richard Fordyce, Bethany, Mo.;

--Customer Focus Action Team Chair Sharon Covert, Tiskilwa, Ill.;

--International Opportunities Target Area Coordinator Jared Hagert, Emerado, N.D.;

--Supply Target Area Coordinator Rick Stern, Cream Ridge, N.J.;

--Communications Target Area Coordinator Jimmy Sneed, Hernando, Miss.; and

--Past Chairman Marc Curtis, Leland, Miss.

Additionally, North Dakota farmer Joel Thorsrud will serve as Domestic Opportunities Target Area coordinator. Davide Hartke, from Illinois, will serve as Audit & Evaluation Committee chair.

Under USB's new structure, a Strategic Management Committee keeps the checkoff's strategic goals at the forefront. This group of farmer-leaders also reviews budgets and tracks the progress of checkoff-funded projects to ensure they remain consistent with USB's long-range strategic plan. Farmer-leaders who will serve on the SMC include:

--Chair Jim Call, Madison, Minn.;

--Marc Curtis, Leland, Miss.;

--Dwain Ford, Kinmundy, Ill.;

--Nancy Kavazanjian, Beaver Dam, Wis.; and

--Jim Schriver, Bluffton, Ind.

The 69 farmer-directors of USB oversee the investments of the soy checkoff to maximize profit opportunities for all U.S. soybean farmers. These volunteers invest and leverage checkoff funds to increase the value of U.S. soy meal and oil, to ensure U.S. soybean farmers and their customers have the freedom and infrastructure to operate, and to meet the needs of U.S. soy's customers. As stipulated in the federal Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soy checkoff.

For more information on the United Soybean Board, visit www.unitedsoybean.org.

Date: 1/7/2013



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