Like soybean farmers who carefully map out their planting, spraying and harvesting plans in advance, the farmer-leaders of the soybean checkoff mapped the future of the U.S. soy industry.
United Soybean Board (USB) farmer-leaders recently voted to approve the checkoff’s new Long-Range Strategic Plan (LRSP), which identifies six areas they believe are most critical to maintaining and expanding the U.S. soy industry over the next five years. They include increasing the value of U.S. soybean meal and oil, ensuring that U.S. soybean farmers maintain their freedom to operate, meeting customer needs, protecting the animal-agriculture sector and investing in transportation infrastructure.
USB farmer-directors approved the plan during USB’s meeting June 29-July 1 in Milwaukee.
“The soybean industry has changed dramatically in the past 20 years, and USB needs some changes as well,” said USB Chairman Marc Curtis, a Mississippi soybean farmer. “We took a step forward moving USB toward the organization it needs to be to address the modern world.”
In addition, USB farmer-leaders approved projects to increase focus on production research on the soybean genome and to increase emphasis on specific, targeted international markets.
Curtis said the checkoff has supported research that led to the sequencing of the soybean genome, and the next steps will be to identify the function of each gene.
“Additional research on the soybean genome will allow us to increase efficiency in plant breeding,” said Curtis. “This will allow researchers to change the plant in ways that could improve composition and help increase yields.”
Picking targeted markets will allow USB to focus its efforts for the maximum impact, said Curtis.
“We have identified specific markets where we can make a move immediately,” said Curtis. “These will be markets U.S. soy is not currently in and we can focus on and make an impact.”
Farmer-leaders also determined the direction of USB’s fiscal year that starts Oct. 1, 2011, with specific recommendations for each of the checkoff’s program areas, including Communications, Domestic Marketing, International Marketing, Production Research and New Uses Development.
“USB adopted a new strategic plan, adopted high-impact projects and made steps in other areas,” said Curtis. “USB approved the two projects that represent the most tangible things we can put our hands on right now.”
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.