Approximately 1,000 farmers and their families from Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Kentucky attend the “First Corn Belt Soybean Field Day,” where the American Soybean Association was founded on Sept. 3, 1920, in Camden, Indiana. (Courtesy photo.)

What began on an Indiana soybean farm 100 years ago developed into an organization that quickly grew to be the leading advocate for soybean farmers and foster the building of the U.S. soybean industry—the American Soybean Association. ASA is celebrating its “First Soy Century” as it recognizes its 100th anniversary throughout 2020.

The roots of ASA were formed when brothers Taylor, Noah and Finis Fouts hosted the first Corn Belt Soybean Field Day at their Soyland Farms operation in Camden, Indiana on Sept. 3, 1920. The event drew nearly 1,000 farmers from six states, who were interested in discovering more about this emerging new commodity called soybeans.

The National Soybean Growers’ Association—later renamed the American Soybean Association—was formed that very day. Taylor Fouts was elected as the first president of the association.

In the century since those humble beginnings on an Indiana soybean farm, ASA has continually been on the leading edge—focused on sustaining and improving the prospects and opportunities for profitability for U.S. soybean farmers.

Throughout the years, ASA has been at the forefront—engaged, committed and working diligently on behalf of U.S. soybean farmers on a variety of issues including:

  • Helping remove interstate commerce restrictions and protect domestic markets for U.S. soybeans and soy food products.

  • Leading the charge to improve soybean grading standards in order to meet the quality demands of domestic processors and international soybean buyers.

  • Working with USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service decades ago to initiate market development projects for U.S. soy and soy products in what was just a few countries starting in the mid-1950s, growing to more than 40 countries in the 1960s, and reaching today’s globally strong position of exporting U.S. soy to more than 100 countries.

  • Funding initial research that led to dozens of new uses for soy-based products—from paint to printer’s ink, from plastics to building materials.

  • Working with the soybean processing industry to improve the quality, characteristics and value of U.S.-grown soybeans.

  • Fostering the development, growth and engagement of state soybean associations—creating a powerful nationwide network of soybean advocates and farmer-leaders.

  • Creating a “voluntary” soybean farmer-investment program in 1948 that eventually led to the establishment of state soybean checkoff programs.

  • Advocating and achieving passage of legislation creating a national soybean checkoff—managed by the farmer-led, USDA-appointed United Soybean Board.

  • Ensuring that soybean farmers are heard—loud and clear—when key legislation is being developed and debated—from farm bills to renewable fuels, from regulatory issues to international trade.

  • And most importantly, representing the best interests of soybean farmers at every opportunity.

For more information on the 100th anniversary of the American Soybean Association, visit ASA’s 100th Anniversary website at http://asa100years.com.

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