By Jon H. Harsch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

St. Louis, Dec. 9 – The new chair of the United Soybean Board said Thursday that “to maintain our freedom to operate,” soybean farmers needto work together with the rest of the U.S. agriculture industry to ensure decision makers understand the importance of modern agriculture.”

Appointed at this week's meeting in St. Louis, Marc Curtis, a Mississippi soybean grower, added that he will focus on three goals for the USB which uses farmer checkoff funds to improve profitability for the U.S. soybean industry. He said his goals for the checkoff program's 20th year are to:

  • continue to build a stronger relationship with the American Soybean Association”

  • boost soybean export efforts, including “reconstruction of the U.S. Soybean Export Council,” and

  • conduct a complete organizational analysis of USB.”

Referring to USB/American Soybean Association wrangling over the past year, Curtis said “the Inspector General's report has come out and pretty much gave USB a clean bill of health. That's behind us. We're working on the relationship. We haven't had any blowups recently.”

Curis also said USB will support a special aquaculture initiative, work with state soybean checkoff boards to promote soy as advanced biodiesel, and earmark a $3 million contribution to the new U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance “to build public support for modern agriculture.”

Note that, as developed early this year by CropLife America President and CEO Jay Vroom, “modern agriculture” is a catch-all phrase referring to the use of the latest productivity increasing technology including agricultural chemical use and biotechnology using genetic engineering. As signs of how well modern agriculture is doing, Curtis pointed to another record soybean crop this year and the expectation that the U.S. will rack up a fifth straight record year for soybean exports.

Along with appointing Curtis as USB chair, this year's CONNECTIONS 2010 meeting elected North Dakota soybean grower Vanessa Kunner as Vice Chair, Illinois grower Sharon Covert as Secretary, and Iowa grower Jim Stillman as Treasurer. Illinois soybean, corn, wheat and pork producer Phil Bradshaw become Immediate Past Chairman.

To hear Stewart Doan's audio report on the USB meeting, go to:
For presentations from this year's CONNECTIONS 2010 meeting, go to:

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