A New Normal for Illinois Ag

By John Lumpe, CEO, Illinois Soybean Association

a new normalA “new normal” – certainly, a phrase we have all used in 2020 as COVID-19 has rocked the world to its core. New daily routines, procedures and precautions, new stressors – new everything, really. And for me personally, this new normal hit less than 30 days into my role as the new ISA CEO, reminding us all that there are things you can plan for, and things you can’t.

But new isn’t always bad. What I’ve witnessed in the Illinois agriculture community over the last several months is a new level of partnership and service to our constituents and the industries we are proud to serve. We’ve banded together and supported our producers when times got tough.

We’ve looked at issues, collaborated to figure out solutions, and we’ve pulled off some pretty amazing things – like getting more than 4,000 gallons of hand sanitizer delivered to Illinois ag retailers during planting season through a partnership with the Illinois Corn Marketing Board.

Another example is our contribution to the Illinois Pork Producers Association’s Pork Power program. We helped with an effort that took an overstock of market-ready animals caught in the supply chain breakdown and turned them into nutritious protein for Illinois food banks. Most recently, ISA worked with fellow state commodity groups to secure dedicated funding from the federal CARES Act in the state budget to address the financial crisis livestock producers face.

When it comes to innovative partnerships, I hope this new normal for Illinois ag continues. This spring has demonstrated to me that for any Illinois industry’s success, relationships must be built throughout the state, out of state, in industry and out. That’s work I’m eager to see ISA maintain.

I committed to the ISA board on delivering a first 90-day plan. That included items like meeting all 24 of our board members face-to-face, or via Zoom and FaceTime in many instances. Also on that list was taking a look under the hood of the organization and providing a fresh, outside perspective. And, I knew I wanted to come in focused on building relationships and fostering collaboration from day one. I’m happy to report that by day 90, we were on our way with some strengthened relationships and some renewed enthusiasm for our collaborative work in the Illinois ag industry, particularly with our counterparts at the Corn, Beef, Pork and Farm Bureau organizations.

Again, it’s an exciting new normal for ISA and one I look forward to continuing.

new normalIt’s been an incredible journey so far at the helm of ISA. I am excited to do some great work together. And by together, I mean driving an organization that works tirelessly for the good of the Illinois soybean farmer who funds this checkoff, makes up our membership, and makes this good work possible. Here’s to a new normal working together and brighter days ahead.

To our readers: What’s a positive new normal on your farm? I encourage you to find the silver lining in the midst of challenges. If there’s anything ISA can do to provide better service, please send us a note at ilsoy@ilsoy.org. We enjoy hearing from you.