FARGO, N.D. – For the first time ever, the United Soybean Board (USB) held their summer board meeting in North Dakota.
A total of 73 farmer-leaders met in Fargo on July 17-18 to approve promotions, marketing and research programs that are strategically aligned to increase the value and preference for U.S. soy. These programs will be funded by the soybean checkoff for the 2020 fiscal year.
“This was a pretty significant opportunity for North Dakota to be hosting the United Soybean Board,” said Jared Hagert, a member of the USB board who farms near Emerado, N.D. “This is the first time we have hosted a USB board meeting within the state. Part of that has to do with increased soybean production within the state and part of it has to do with the USB wanting to get out and provide outreach to states.”
The Fargo board meeting was the last in a series of meetings designed to narrow down a list of proposed programs initially presented to the USB office last December. The approved programs focus on three principal areas:
- Meal supply – covering efforts to enhance the soybean nutrition bundle and use supply research, marketing and communications to improve the nutritive value of U.S. soybeans and soybean meal.
- Oil marketplace –including efforts related to reputation management of U.S. soybean oil and strategies to enhance consumer perceptions, support science and reclaim market share.
- Sustainability demand –projects in this area will promote the overall sustainability of U.S. soy to international buyers and end users. Sustainability is a market differentiator for U.S. soy and creates market opportunities in areas such as the European Union.
The proposals were evaluated by farmer-leadership, and the most strategically sound projects moved forward in USB’s value creation framework meetings. Those recommended projects were then voted on at the USB meeting in Fargo. Amid fluctuating markets and challenging weather conditions, these projects will create opportunities to leverage checkoff resources that fulfill USB’s “Better Every Day” motto, according to checkoff directors
“With the United Soybean Board being a promotion, marketing and research organization, there were a number of projects we had to winnow through,” Hagert said. “We started with well over 500 proposals and got that winnowed down to 169 projects that were approved for the 2020 fiscal year. Over $75 million will be invested in these objects on behalf of all of the soybean farmers, with $20.5 million in the meal supply area; the oil marketplace funded at $22.5 million and $32 million in the sustainability area.”
When pressed to pick a couple projects that really show great promise for the soybean industry, Harget mentioned the project on the oil side – the utilization of soybean oil in asphalt in resurfacing asphalt roads.
“We have gone through a number of years of testing and are just now getting into the real development of the product,” he said. “It has shown great longevity and actually helps the road surface maintain itself better than using just petroleum.”
On the meal side, work is being done to make sure the nutritional bundle is in place that soy’s end users need and making sure they are aware of what the advantages are of soy and what is available to them.
“We had a group of animal nutritionists inform the USB board that they can make hog rations without soybean meal – and if that doesn’t grab your attention, I don’t know what will,” he said.
A challenge such as the one just mentioned was also mirrored in a USB-prepared news release concerning the summer USB board meeting. The group’s chair and Kentucky farmer Keith Tapp said, “We have a charge to overcome, and – now more than ever – U.S. soybean farmers need the United Soybean Board and the soy checkoff to rise to the occasion on their behalf. Our purpose as farmer-leaders is to tackle the task of representing more than 500,000 U.S. soybean farmers by maximizing the value of their checkoff investments, especially during these uncertain times.”
One area of uncertainty was lessened shortly before the board meeting in Fargo, when the USDA announced that it would not conduct a referendum on the continuation of the soybean checkoff. The lack of requests to hold such a referendum shows overwhelming support for the Soybean Promotion and Research Order, or more commonly known as the soy checkoff. Conducted every five years, this news affirms the checkoff’s recognized commitment to drive innovation beyond the bushel and build demand for U.S. soy both domestically and abroad.
The USB also welcomed two new directors to the board during the meeting, including Todd Hanten from Goodwin, S.D. and Daniel Rajzer from Decatur, Mich. In addition to USB, 31 Qualified State Soybean Boards (QSSBs) represent soybean farmers across the country.
In the following issue, Hagert will outline how the USB is working in tandem with other soybean organizations to enhance the international marketing of U.S. soybeans in this challenging time.
Hagert has served on the USB board for the past nine years and besides his farming enterprise, he operates a seed conditioning and sales business that offers agronomy and precision farming solutions for farmers.
For more information on the USB, visit www.unitedsoybean.org.