Looking to leverage soybean checkoff funds, reduce redundancy and prioritize local research, soybean farmer leaders from Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Virginia have agreed to create a regional research consortium.

Ellen Matthews Davis of West Point, Va., was recently hired to lead the new regional consortium.

Davis served as executive director of the Virginia Small Grains and Corn Growers Associations and as an ex officio member of the Small Grains and Corn Checkoff Boards until 2006. She currently serves as chairman of the Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom, is the representative from New Kent County to the board of directors for Rappahannock Community College and serves on the Virginia Small Grains Checkoff Board. She and her husband, Ray, are partners in 2,800-acre grain farm operation in central Virginia. Davis was State Director of Rural Development with appointment from President George W. Bush in 2006 and reappointed in 2009 by President Barack Obama and retired from the position in January 2014.

Davis, using her agricultural background in such wide phases of agriculture, is leading the organization through its start-up process. Development of the consortium is supported by the soybean checkoff. Both the United Soybean Board and the region’s state soybean boards are financially supporting the project, led by the Maryland Soybean Board.