For some, the start-up of the new Soybean Producers of America (SPA) is a godsend. But many others, farmers and industry folks alike, are puzzled by this new organization.
What could make this group different from the old standby American Soybean Association (ASA)?
Talk with SPA's executive director and former ASA member Harvey Joe Sanner from Des Arc, AR.
“We're disillusioned with ASA and have been for some time,” Sanner says. “We believe its policies have had more benefits for industry than for producers. It's just not producer-oriented enough.”
That's not a new theme by a long shot. In fact, you might think forming a new association that differs from mainstream groups is radical.
But the American Corn Growers Association, for instance, provides an opposing view and alternative choice to the National Corn Growers Association.
Also, Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund (R-CALF), a splinter group in the beef industry, is picking up steam as another choice for cattle producers rather than the age-old National Cattlemen's Beef Association. Initially, the R-CALF group was formed to fight Canadian border trade issues.
Now, even the National Pork Producers Council expects another pork producer group could be in its not-so-distant future.
So the idea of a new soybean association taking root isn't far-fetched.
According to SPA's Sanner, a past president of the American Agricultural Movement, going head-to-head with ASA “will be tough, but there's a need.”
And says SPA's president Dewayne Chappell, a soybean grower also from Des Arc, “We won't let big agribusiness drive our policy.”
So far, SPA is comprised of a board of directors from Arkansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, Illinois and South Dakota.
SPA's bylaws and policy state it won't accept money from seed and chemical companies. Also, its core membership will be farmers.
ASA, on the other hand, already has 26,000 dues-paying members and has been operating over 80 years. “We have a grassroots process that represents soybean farmers well,” says Steve Censky, CEO of ASA. “And we're going to keep on doing what we're doing — trying to increase farmer profitability.”
Soybean Digest is a stalwart supporter of ASA. But if someone else can be a striking force for more profits, have at it. And if there's any way to make you more money, then maybe there's room for someone else on the block.