February 23, 2018 |

By Debra Davis

Soybean farmers from across the country were in Alabama’s port city this week to discuss nearly $100 million in checkoff funds the United Soybean Board (USB) invests annually. Increased soybean acres in Alabama will soon mean more representation for the state on the 73-member USB.

Pickens County soybean farmer Annie Dee is Alabama’s USB representative. She recently was appointed to her third three-year term and was excited to welcome USB members, their spouses and USB contractors to the state. She said increased soybean acreage in Alabama will give the state a second USB member in December.

“The number of representatives from each state is governed by how many soybean acres your state has (with a limit of four per state),” Dee said. “I’m excited about another representative on the board, and we’re going to start looking for someone to fill that role soon.”

Soybeans in Alabama has grown from 185,000 harvested acres in 2007 to 345,000 acres in 2017, according to USDA reports.

Dee said this week’s meeting focused on annual checkoff-funded strategies. A June meeting will set priorities for spending, and a July meeting will select which projects to fund.

“It’s a privilege and honor to represent our state on this committee,” she said. “We are very diligent in how we invest the farmers’ contributions to the checkoff. We take our responsibility very seriously to make sure we spend farmers’ dollars wisely.”

During her state report, Dee showed the Farming Feeds Alabama video produced by Alabama Soybean Producers. The three-minute video features Alabama soybean farmers who share their love for farming and why soybeans are important.

Later that evening, Alabama Soybean Producers sponsored a dinner and reception, which included seafood and barbecue. For many USB members, it was their first trip to Alabama.

“The weather has been great, the food was delicious, and the reception was so much fun,” said USB Vice Chair Keith Tapp of northwestern Kentucky. “Annie is a great board member. She’s actively engaged on her farm, so she knows the challenges our farmers face. She’s not shy about stepping up the mic during a meeting to discuss important issues.”

Polly Ruhland of St. Louis, Missouri, is USB’s chief executive officer. She said USB works on farmers’ behalf so they can work on their farm.

“Farmers are concentrating on raising soybeans and doing the best job they can on their farm to be profitable,” she said. “They don’t have time to look at the other end of the value chain, meaning consumers and customers. With our research and promotion directive, USB focuses on better beans, more customers and promoting soybeans specifically in a very competitive environment.”

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