The Illinois Soybean Association kicked off a year-long celebration of the organization's 50th anniversary at the 2013 Farm Progress Show in Decatur.
"We're embracing the past – our legacy of leadership, market development and soybean production in Illinois," says Don Guinnip, soybean farmer from Marshall, ISA director and chair of the ISA Anniversary Committee. "And we're envisioning the future – our goal of using 600 million bushels of Illinois soybeans by 2020."
The Land of Lincoln Soybean Association was officially formed in 1964 by Champaign County farmer Lyle Grace to provide legislative representation for soybean growers. In 1974, the Illinois Soybean Program Operating Board was created to manage the Illinois soybean checkoff, funding research and promotion of Illinois soybeans.
"Through the years, the organizations have worked more closely together," says Guinnip. Today, a 24-member farmer board manages both legislative and checkoff activities under the ISA umbrella.
"We are working to enable Illinois soybean producers to be the most knowledgeable and profitable around the world," Guinnip adds.
Part of ISA's success comes from the strength of Illinois soybean production, which has grown from just 2,000 acres 100 years ago to about 9 million acres, or one-fourth of the state's land mass, today.
Illinois soybeans generate more than $5 billion per year in direct sales alone. The economic impact is multiplied by Illinois processing, livestock and transportation industries.
"History shows in the early 1920s, Illinois was the leading soybean state, thanks to its research and industry," says Guinnip. "According to the Soy Info Center, Illinois farmers and manufacturers developed combines for soybeans. University of Illinois agronomists pioneered breeding research. A.E. Staley Manufacturing Co. made Illinois a leader in soybean crushing."
As a result, the volume of Illinois soybean production has grown exponentially, from less than 100,000 bushels to more than 460 million bushels in the past century.
"Illinois has the climate, cropping systems and ready access to domestic and global markets to continue growing soybean production while reducing the environmental impact," he says. "That's why ISA is working toward a 600 million bushel use goal."
The celebration will include recognition at the Illinois Commodity Conference in November and at events sponsored by ISA throughout the year, and conclude at the ISA 2014 annual meeting.
Source: Illinois Soybean Association