ST. LOUIS -- Before the oval office leadership change in January, the United Soybean Board (USB) underwent its own change in leadership at its December board meeting. The first 100 days of the new USB Executive Committee, which helps determine priorities for the soybean checkoff, have been significant and busy.

New USB Chairman Chuck Myers, a soybean farmer from Lyons, Neb., says some of the most significant developments in his term so far include the implementation of the new Sustainability Initiative, great progress with the Biotechnology Initiative and increased collaboration across the soybean industry in focusing on the priorities set at the December CONNECTIONS meeting.

Myers has been surprised by the positive attention the checkoff has generated, saying the number of interviews he has conducted with the agricultural media has been surprising. Myers appreciates the opportunity to tell the story of agriculture and what the checkoff is doing.

"At all of the meetings I've attended this winter, people from across agriculture all come up to me to express their support for the work the checkoff is doing," says Myers. "It's been very gratifying."

But the work is just getting started for USB this year. Myers says goals for the board to accomplish in 2009 include increasing collaboration across contractors and committees, adapting and adopting new technologies in operations and increasing board efficiencies and effectiveness. Other goals include improving the checkoff's annual planning process and focusing on the priorities set through our long-range strategic planning, across all committees and initiatives.

Board priorities set through the long-range strategic plan and from the industry-wide CONNECTIONS meeting include:

  • Biotechnology
  • Sustainability
  • Improved yields and crop quality
  • Maintain and expand the livestock, poultry and aquaculture industries
  • Market volatility
  • Research infrastructure

  • The soybean checkoff also faces external challenges, like the global economic crisis, but Myers says the checkoff will thrive.

    "I'm confident the significant global demand for soy will be resilient and will rise once the economic crisis eases," says Myers. "Demand for soy has held up well compared with other commodities, in part due to the work the checkoff has done over many years."

    USB has received some important third-party high marks recently, with an independent study concluding the soybean checkoff has returned $6.40 in additional profits to U.S. soybean farmers for every dollar invested. In addition, the checkoff recently received a completely clean audit of its financial records. These positive checkoff stories are a result of the continued dedication of the checkoff's farmer-leaders over many years.

    "I'm most proud of the dedication the 68 volunteer famer-leaders put forth on behalf of their fellow soybean farmers," says Myers. "They sacrifice time away from their families and farms in order to move the soybean industry forward. They take their responsibility very seriously. I couldn't be more proud to be associated with this great group of soybean farmers."

    USB is made up of 68 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.