As the calendar turns to 2010, soybean farmers have a new – but experienced – United Soybean Board (USB) chairman looking out for their best interests in the new year.

The United Soybean Board (USB) recently concluded its annual meeting by electing a new chairman, Phil Bradshaw, who farms in Griggsville, IL, to lead the soybean checkoff.

Bradshaw has served as a USB director since 2004 and was the USB vice chairman in 2009. A tireless supporter of U.S. soybeans and agriculture, he says he’s excited to be the soybean checkoff’s new leader.

“I am extremely proud to be a U.S. soybean farmer, and I’m equally proud and a bit humbled to have been selected by my fellow farmer-leaders on USB to lead the soybean checkoff in 2010,” says Bradshaw. “Despite a really tough planting season and harvest season in 2009, I believe most of the farmers who serve as volunteer leaders on USB can’t think of a more exciting time to be a U.S. soybean farmer.”

Helping Bradshaw lead the board are: Vice Chairman Marc Curtis, Leland, MS; Secretary Todd Allen, who farms in West Memphis, AR; Treasurer Jim Stillman, Emmetsburg, IA; Lewis Bainbridge, who farms in Ethan, SD; Jim Call, from Madison, MN; Vicki Coughlin, Watertown, WI; Vanessa Kummer, who farms in Colfax, ND; Marty Ross, Delmar, DE; and Rick Stern, who farms in Cream Ridge, NJ.

One of the biggest challenges for checkoff farmer-leaders in 2010 will be to build on last year’s international marketing efforts. More than 1.56 billion bushels of U.S. soy were exported in 2009, which set a record for the third consecutive year. Bradshaw says building and expanding overseas markets remain important not only to the success of U.S. soybean farmers today but to future generations, as well.

More than 60 U.S. soybean farmers who serve on the United Soybean Board made some major decisions at this year’s annual meeting. The board members present examined and deliberated the merits of three proposed models for future checkoff-funded efforts to expand export markets for U.S. soy. The model selected by the farmer-leaders seeks to more formally design a system that involves all exporters in the U.S. soybean industry – both in the form of the large as well as the smaller exporters – to maximize those contributing to U.S. soy market building efforts across our borders and overseas. USB will issue a request for proposals from any entity that believes it has the experience, expertise and capability to work within the chosen business model to achieve USB’s vision for continuing the checkoff’s record of increasing U.S. soy exports.

Supporting domestic poultry and livestock producers will also remain a priority for USB. This includes increasing awareness of the impact of animal agriculture on the U.S. economy and the U.S. soy industry.

“Animal agriculture continues to be the largest user of soy,” Bradshaw says. “The soybean checkoff increased funding efforts to help export more U.S. meat in an effort to restore profitability to the U.S. animal agriculture industry. U.S. soybean farmers need the animal agriculture sector to survive.”

Some of the soybean checkoff’s major accomplishments in 2009 include:

  • Helped develop and commercialize 26 new soy-based industrial products.
  • Funded extensive testing that proved soy biodiesel’s excellent performance in new, lower-emission diesel engines.
  • Completed a study that proves the sustainability of U.S. soybean production.
  • Established a partnership with the World Food Prize to increase knowledge and understanding of biotechnology.
  • Worked toward completing a map of the soybean genome that can speed up development of new U.S. soybean varieties.