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Agricultural News

U.S. Soybean Farmers Recognizes 20 Years of Checkoff Work

Fri, 02 Dec 2011 14:42:15 CST

U.S. Soybean Farmers Recognizes 20 Years of Checkoff Work U.S. soybean farmers aren't spending much time recognizing the first 20 years of the United Soybean Board (USB) and the national soybean checkoff. They're too busy planning for the next 20 years.

As the national checkoff's 20th anniversary passes, the board will meet Dec. 6-7 in St. Louis to set its sights on making sure the checkoff reaches its goals and helps maximize U.S. soybean farmers' profit opportunities in the future.

The 69 farmer-leaders who serve on USB will observe the national checkoff's 20th anniversary during their December meeting; they will also continue their focus on the checkoff's new Long Range Strategic Plan.

"Now is no time to sit on our laurels and focus only on the past," says USB Chairman Marc Curtis, a soybean farmer from Leland, Miss., whose successor will be elected at the December meeting. "Instead, we are focused on meeting our strategic objectives aimed at supporting our fellow U.S. soybean farmers' profitability in the decades to come."

Those four strategic objectives involve increasing the value of U.S. soybean meal and oil; ensuring U.S. soybean farmers have the freedom and transportation infrastructure to operate; and renewing the board's focus on meeting customer needs.

Meeting those objectives will be nothing new for the soybean checkoff, which has accomplished much on behalf of U.S. soybean farmers in the last two decades. During that time, USB has helped grow global demand for U.S. soy, helped create and grow the use of biodiesel and Bioheat® markets, funded many new industrial uses for U.S. soy, and helped fund the research that eventually achieved the sequencing of the soybean genome.

Since the national checkoff's inception in 1991, when U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Edward Madigan appointed 63 soybean farmers from 30 states and two regions to serve as the checkoff's first farmer-directors, U.S. soybean demand has grown by greater than 140 percent around the world, more than any other U.S. major crop. Since 2010, as agriculture leads all U.S. economic sectors in the balance of trade, U.S. soy has topped the list in agriculture.

"We are a global economy; there are other competitors around the world, not only for our soybeans but for other oilseeds that would like to have some of the market we currently enjoy," said Sandy Ludeman, the soybean checkoff's founding chairman and soybean farmer from Tracy, Minn. "So if we want to make sure we have a good share of the market for U.S. grown soybeans, we very much need the checkoff to invest farmer dollars in the research and promotion that will help get us there," Ludeman said.

USB is made up of 69 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.



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