After a tumultuous working relationship, the American Soybean Association (ASA) and the United Soybean Board (USB) have resolved to move forward, forging a better business rapport.

As part of that arrangement, the two groups have developed a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and Code of Conduct. ASA has adopted both already and USB will vote on them at their June meeting. USB Chairman Marc Curtis, Leland, MS, farmer says he doesn’t see a problem with the vote passing.

“We’re a growing global soy industry and we needed these recommendations from both groups,” says Alan Kemper, president of ASA and farmer from Lafayette, IN.

Here are details of the Code of Conduct and Memorandum of Understanding.

The Code of Conductis applicable to USB and ASA Boards, executive committees, committees, work groups, contractors and staffs. The Code applies to all interactions between these groups and between individual members of these groups.

The Code sets forth simple, common sense principles intended to inspire and guide behaviors that foster and promote actions that are consistent with the G8 principles of trust, respect, ethics, and open and honest dialogue.

  • Treat all persons with respect, courtesy, consideration, and fairness.
  • Conduct organizational and operational duties with positive leadership exemplified by open communication, creativity, and dedication.
  • Conduct business in a manner that is open and transparent, without violating confidences or disclosing confidential or proprietary information.
  • Demonstrate the highest standards of personal integrity, truthfulness, honesty and fortitude in all activities in order to inspire confidence and trust in such activities and both organizations.
  • Avoid any interest or activity that is in conflict with the conduct of your official duties.
  • Strive for personal and professional excellence.
  • Listen to what others have to say.
  • Speak up and share all relevant information in a way that others can understand it and independently validate it. Good decision making requires valid information.

The Memorandum of Understanding is intended to form the basis for an improved relationship between the organizations. It is focused on finding common ground and includes an agreement to look to the future and move beyond past issues.

ASA and USB realize the need for both organizations to be viable soybean organizations and working collectively, both organizations will support efforts to maintain this viability. The desire to continue the development and trust and respect between the organizations will prove to be the common thread of a mutually beneficial relationship which will play a vital role in serving the needs and interests of U.S. soybean farmers.

Acknowledgements and Understandings

  1. ASA recognizes that the national checkoff program plays a vital role in the research and promotion of soybeans and in producer and consumer education for the benefit of the U.S. soybean farmer. ASA further recognizes that USB is governed by the Soybean Checkoff Act and Order.
  2. USB recognizes ASA as a national soybean policy organization representing U.S. soybean farmers both domestically and internationally. 
  3. ASA and USB recognize their role as equal co-founders of USSEC. Both organizations recognize the brand value of ASA IM. USB and ASA will encourage the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) to maintain the brand value of ASA IM in USSEC’s international marketing efforts. Farmers working through ASA TPIA and USB international marketing committees will direct the activities of USSEC through their respective funding commitments.
  4. USB and ASA recognize the role that ASA plays as Cooperator for FAS international marketing funds, and that ASA will strive to maintain and enhance this role in the future.
  5. Successful completion of collaborative efforts demonstrates to all stakeholders the seriousness of ASA/USB commitment to working together.
  6. ASA and USB recognize the importance of joint meetings involving their organizations officers and CEOs as well as including, when appropriate, the CEO and officers of USSEC.
  7. ASA is recognized for its efforts in developing leadership through programs with collaborative funding from ASA, USB and other partners, including, but not limited to, the soybean leadership college and Board training.

Commitments and Undertakings

  1. Communication: ASA and USB will cooperate and collaborate on opportunities to improve the flow of and access to timely, accurate, relevant and material information between both organizations, their boards of directors, and committees, as well as between national and state organizations. Actions to support this commitment include: sharing minutes and financial information; sharing committee reports; improving director-to-director communication; and giving credit and recognition to each other organization’s efforts in communication releases.
  2. Professional Leadership Development: Building upon ASA’s efforts in leadership development, ASA and USB will collaborate in maintaining, developing and expanding professional leadership programs with financial assistance from both organizations and other supporting partners. Actions to support this commitment include: creating board training opportunities for both organizations, including training in conflict management.
  3. Building a Culture of Trust: Realizing the importance and value of collaboration, trust and respect, ASA and USB will develop ways to involve each other in the development of tools and creation of opportunities that will increase and promote collaboration, trust and respect between the organizations.

Actions to support this commitment include: periodic joint meetings of the Board of Directors of each organization and their executive committees.

A further action will be the creation of a joint USB/ASA committee. The responsibilities of the committee will be:

  • Monitor implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding
  • Strategic planning for identified joint efforts
  • Develop and manage a voluntary conflict resolution process

The committee make up shall be:

  • ASA 1st Vice President as Co-Chair
  • USB vice chairman as Co-Chair
  • Two additional USB members
  • Two additional ASA members
  • ASA president as a non-voting member
  • USB Chairman as a non-voting member

The committee shall have authority to:

  • Monitor Memorandum of Understanding Implementation
  • Monitor Code of Conduct adherence
  • Strategic Planning for identified collaboration opportunities
  • Voluntary conflict resolution
  • Call for joint meetings of both ASA and USB executive committees

The committee shall meet as needed scheduled by the Co-Chairs. Further, any four members of the committee may call for a special meeting. If four members call for a meeting, the Co-Chairs shall call the meeting as soon as possible.

The committee shall be funded by both USB and ASA.

Conclusion:

This Memorandum of Understanding will be a continuing and proactive effort of both organizations, and will require collaboration and periodic review to insure that progress is being made. ASA and USB recognize that the way forward is based upon trust, respect, ethics, and open and honest dialogue, and encourages each organization to support this philosophy.