Illinois Soybean Producers Focus on the Future

By Doug Schroeder, Chairman, Illinois Soybean Association Board of Directors

Doug SchroederEvery few years, a healthy organization takes a close look at its direction and adjusts for the future. The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) recently did just that. The previous strategic plan guided ISA through 2020. During our annual meeting in late July, ISA approved a new mission, vision, values and strategic plan for 2021 and beyond.

Given current industry challenges, the 24 soybean farmers on the ISA board put a lot of thought, discussion and effort into developing strategy for the next few years. Together, we determined that ISA should be laser-focused on soybean demand, uses and advocacy.

A mission statement describes an organization’s purpose and who it serves, while a vision describes what it aspires to become. Values are beliefs that guide behavior and decisions while pursuing the mission. With that in mind, we updated ISA’s mission, vision and values.

  • Mission: The Illinois Soybean Association upholds the interests of Illinois soybean producers through promotion, advocacy, and education.  
  • Vision: To be a market leader in sustainable soybean production and profitability by increasing demand and advocacy.
  • Values: Integrity, leadership, stability and entrepreneurship.

As the ISA 2021 fiscal year gets underway this month, efforts will concentrate on helping farmers. After all, that’s why the organization is here. The new strategic plan focuses on market development, utilization and government relations. Board member committees provide direction for each of these three areas.

Market Development aims to grow soy demand. Opportunities for substantial growth exist with both current and new customers. The goal is to increase Illinois soybean exports and build domestic markets.

ISA checkoff program efforts will support the state’s strategic advantage to export 60 percent of our soybean crop. We will work closely with partner organizations to increase soy, meat and poultry exports, including the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC), U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) and U.S.A. Poultry and Egg Export Council (USAPEEC). At the same time, ISA will develop and strengthen relationships with international soy customers in growing and emerging markets. We will encourage buyers to visit Illinois and see us as trusted partners.

Domestic markets also have potential for growth through efforts like supporting livestock production and expanding the Illinois poultry industry.

Utilization centers on new uses for soybeans and demonstrating the sustainability value of Illinois soybeans. Goals here include identifying new uses for soy, better measuring conservation practices, identifying best management practices for producers and increasing domestic biodiesel consumption.

The ISA checkoff program will fund this work. For example, we plan to partner with universities and institutions to find new uses for soybeans. We will demonstrate the sustainability of U.S. soy to customers. And ISA will continue to support biodiesel, because it is grown, processed and used in Illinois.

Continuing ISA’s farmer education efforts will include agronomic expertise on ILSoyAdvisor.com, the annual Soybean Summit, and the Agribusiness Management Program (AMP) that launched in 2020.

Government Relations focuses on advocacy. ISA must partner with policy makers for the soybean industry to thrive. Goals include establishing regular touchpoints with key legislative representatives and government agencies and ensuring supportive B20 legislation. ISA will also deepen relationships with industry partners and other organizations.

ISA checkoff program and membership efforts will strengthen and expand relationships with government officials at all levels. The Voice for Soy legislative advocacy program will encourage farmers to engage in policy issues. As soybean farmers, we plan to tell decision makers what we need and figure out how to work together. For example, Illinois has a robust biodiesel industry thanks to the supportive policies we have in place.

The ISA board understands the importance of sound strategic direction. We took this planning process seriously, and we look forward to the work ISA will do for Illinois soybean producers in 2021 and beyond.

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