The Soybean Checkoff is Under New Leadership
The 2023 Chair of the United Soybean Board (USB) is Meagan Kaiser of Bowling Green, Missouri. Elected recently by USB farmer/leaders, Kaiser’s tenure with the board began when she was asked whether she’d like to serve as a checkoff director.
“It’s really been an eye-opening experience of what the checkoff does,” said Kaiser, during an interview. “The best way I can explain it is that we pool together in a way that really gives farmers some power to act collectively, as in we get to research and question what we’re being told as consumers, but we also get to improve our reputation and talk about all the good things we’re doing on our farm to not only our domestic but our international customers.”
Without the soybean checkoff, Kaiser maintains that farmers would be on their own and without direction to take sole responsibility for research and market promotion. On the other hand, she credits the soybean checkoff for the success story of biodiesel. “That investment that farmers made 20, 30 years ago to just kind of find out if soy oil could be used in a similar manner as diesel, and then now you look at how that could be a huge opportunity going forward with renewable diesel, renewable aviation fuel, what other way could we have taken such a risky investment and for it to take 30 years to kind of come to fruition and really be a big driver of our profitability on the farm,” she said. “That’s very unique to the checkoff.”
Kaiser says she’s most proud of soybean checkoff investments in transportation infrastructure that have resulted in the U.S. being a more reliable supplier to export customers. “All of that reliability plays into when an international customer says, ‘yes, I’ll buy U.S. soy,’ they don’t have to think about ‘will it ever come,’” she said. “We see this in how that reliability really makes a big difference. It also makes a big difference in our sustainability and being able to say ‘we use emit less greenhouse gas because we’re able to use rail and river in addition to our roads.’”
Kaiser previously served as Strategic Plan Task Force Chair and oversaw a nearly 20-member committee that created the current strategic plan that prioritizes sustainable soy solutions for global and domestic customers while ensuring value and profitability for U.S. soybean farmers. Approved at the 2021 USB July Meeting with unanimous support, the Strategic Plan Task Force served a critical role in creating the plan, engaging farmer-leaders and value chain partners and ensuring it reflected the future state of the industry. “When we’re together as part of the checkoff,” said Kaiser, “I feel like we really get to make a big difference.”