ISA has existed in one form or another since the mid-1960s. Previously, ISA operated as the umbrella organization for both the Illinois soybean checkoff and Land of Lincoln Soybean Association (LOLSA). The Illinois soybean checkoff always has coordinated research, education and promotion funded by checkoff dollars contributed by all Illinois soybean farmers. LOLSA was created by Champaign County farmer Lyle Grace as a member organization. The association was officially formed in 1964 to provide legislative representation for growers. Checkoff contributions cannot pay for policy work. Illinois growers decided during the 1970s they wanted more non-government assistance. The Illinois Soybean Program Operating Board (ISPOB) was created to manage the checkoff. ISPOB requested farmers annually contribute a portion of proceeds to research and promotion.
During the same decade, LOLSA and ISPOB began supporting international marketing offices through the American Soybean Association (ASA). ISPOB began funding production research. Through the last few decades, a number of marketing, research and promotion activities and legislative efforts have been added and refined by Illinois soybean growers.
In 1990, Illinois soybean leaders joined other state leaders to draft guidelines for a uniform, national soybean checkoff. The effort was successful, and the checkoff is now a major source of funding for local, state, national and international soy projects.
To reflect the changes and provide an efficient structure for Illinois soybean farmers to support their industry, the terms LOLSA and ISPOB formerly were replaced by Illinois Soybean Growers (ISG) and Illinois Soybean Board (ISB) in 2012. The overall mission and vision of ISA remain the same. Working together as ISA, ISG and ISB strive to enable Illinois soybean producers to be the most knowledgeable and profitable soybean producers around the world.