U.S. soybean farmers have a new ally working on their behalf to remain competitive in a growing global marketplace. The United States Soybean Export Council (USSEC), a new organization that will implement a unified and coordinated international marketing program to build demand and brand for U.S. soybeans and soy products, held its inaugural meeting on March 31, 2005, in Chicago. USSEC will be governed by 19 representatives from the American Soybean Association (ASA), the United Soybean Board (USB) and U.S. soybean exporters and allied industry.

During the March 31 meeting, USSEC board members appointed interim officers. Neal Bredehoeft of Alma, Mo., and Mark Pietz of Lakefield, Minn., will act as co-chairmen. Ken Dalenberg of Mansfield, Ill., will act as treasurer and Gary Joachim of Owatonna, Minn., will act as secretary. USSEC will hold official elections at a later date.

“It’s exciting to be on the ground floor of creating a new organization that will implement international market development activities on behalf of ASA and USB,” Bredehoeft says. “The steps taken at our first meeting will help USSEC get its feet firmly planted on the ground so we can best serve the farmers we are representing.”

USSEC board members also established working committees, assigned a charge to each committee and appointed committee members during the inaugural meeting. The three committees are Finance, Membership, and Personnel. Committees have been asked to bring recommendations before the full board for consideration during the next USSEC board meeting, scheduled for the week of May 2, 2005. The board also established a process to hire a chief staff officer for the organization.

“In creating USSEC, ASA and USB farmer leaders recognized the importance of creating an industry-wide entity that allows us to react quickly in the ever-changing global marketplace,” says Pietz. “With the establishment of USSEC, soybean farmers have a strong triad of their association, their checkoff, and now their own international marketing organization working for them.”

USSEC was jointly developed by soybean farmers who serve on ASA and USB. ASA has been developing overseas markets for U.S. soybean growers since 1956. In 1991, after the inception of the national soybean checkoff, ASA and USB began working together to build international markets and increase competitiveness for U.S. soybean producers. USSEC will build off of ASA's nearly fifty years of successful soybean export activities by continuing to use the "ASA International Marketing" name. USSEC will work on behalf of ASA and USB to positively impact the U.S. soybean export market for the benefit of all U.S. soybean farmers.

For more information about USSEC, contact ASA (www.soygrowers.com) or USB (www.unitedsoybean.org).