With a sole mission of representing the voice of U.S. soybean farmers through advocacy and policy, the new U.S. Soybean Federation (USSF) was announced by founding farmer-leaders today (Friday).
"This is a challenging time for everyone in our country and soybean farmers are no exception," says newly elected USSF President Lance Peterson, a soybean farmer from Underwood, MN. "We need an organization like USSF that will have no other focus than to fairly, vigorously and effectively represent the voice of all U.S. soybean farmers in the federal legislative process."
Peterson also pointed out actions by the American Soybean Association (ASA) have triggered the need for this new organization. "It's clear to us that ASA's continuing actions are not in the best interest of soybean farmers as ASA is jeopardizing the national soybean checkoff," says Peterson. "We need both a strong checkoff organization and a strong policy and advocacy organization that can work independently but cooperatively. USSF stands in total support of the current national soybean checkoff and the farmer-leaders appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to oversee checkoff investments."
USSF will be comprised primarily of existing state soybean associations or new state soybean federations. USSF will not serve as a member organization, but instead be a coordinating entity to ensure a focused representation of U.S. soybean farmers on Capitol Hill. The organization's offices will be eventually located in Washington, D.C., and the board of directors plans to contract with a farm lobbyist to serve as the CEO.
In a board meeting yesterday, the USSF founding state organizations were accepted, founding officers were elected and the board of directors was confirmed. The founding organizations are the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association and the Missouri Soybean Association. Officers are: President Lance Peterson; Vice President Warren Stemme, a soybean farmer from Chesterfield, MO; and Secretary/Treasurer Jerry Slocum, a soybean farmer from Coldwater, MS.
In addition to accepting the founding state organizations and electing officers, USSF directors approved the USSF bylaws. Peterson said the next step will be to begin outreach and confirmation of additional state soybean organizations as affiliates. The board of directors will also begin a strategic planning effort, including establishing policy objectives. The USSF operating budget will come from affiliated state soybean organizations and industry support.
Stemme explained USSF will be governed by a full delegate body with a board of directors and officer team. "One of the most important features of this new organization is that every state affiliate will have equal representation," says Stemme. "Regardless of a state's production numbers or the number of state soybean organization members, states will be allowed 10 farmer delegates. It means an equal voice for all states, but more importantly all soybean farmers."
When a state's organization affiliation is accepted, the farmer-delegates will be allowed. Individual states will determine their delegates. Of those farmer-delegates, three will become directors of the USSF Board.
"We anticipate every state that produces soybeans, desires a strong and effective soybean policy advocate and supports the national soybean checkoff would want to affiliate with USSF — from North Dakota to Florida and Nebraska to Maryland," says Slocum.
For more information contact: Kiersten Schroeder, firstname.lastname@example.org; 314.378.2111