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USB to anticipate, skate aggressively to emerging opportunities benefiting soybean farmers

Article cover photo
Polly Ruhland says the United Soybean Board is anticipating and capturing changes in the marketplace rather than reacting. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

By Aaron Putze, APR

(Fargo, ND – July 17, 2019) Hockey standout Wayne Gretzky once defined his greatness in the sport as “skating to where the puck will be, not where it has been.”

The United Soybean Board is applying this same philosophy to its business plan to better serve farmers and the industry.

CEO Polly Ruhland says it will stay ahead of the curve by anticipating and capturing changes in the marketplace rather than reacting.

“Our job is to recognize opportunities and grasp them fearlessly,” she told farmer directors, staff and guests gathered for the organization’s summer meeting in Fargo, North Dakota. “And that’s what we will do.”

The organization will place new energy on collaborative partnerships between the soybean industry and global brands and make resources work harder by leveraging farmer dollars with support from allied industry.  

Transmitting soy’s message beyond the choir is another critical strategy the USB will deploy.

“Soy is full of consumer doubt driven by unfamiliarity with what we do and the technology we use,” Ruhland said. “The soybean checkoff must help narrow the gap between society and business.”

To do so, she stressed the importance of “engaging with folks” about soybeans, a renewable ingredient that can benefit the world.

Ruhland said establishing a close and respectful partnership with friends and “those we disagree with both inside and outside of agriculture” is critical to the USB’s success and the soybean industry’s future.

To emphasize the importance of the end user, Ruhland reminded the audience that there’s only one place cash enters the soybean system, and that’s courtesy of consumers.

Ruhland, who led the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association prior to joining the USB in 2017, said current challenges facing the soy community are fundamental to USB’s relevancy. They may also be the catalyst for new opportunities for the soy family. 

“At a time when the industry has many challenges, it’s extremely important to remember that significant improvement and growth often come during such circumstances,” she said. “Very unique opportunities often emerge from tough times.”

Regardless of whether the sailing is smooth or rough, the industry must cultivate an anticipatory vision. If it doesn’t, significant time and resources will be devoted to reacting and managing short-term issues at the expense of preparing for, and capitalizing on, long-term opportunities.

“We must think less about the short-term challenges and more about where we want our world to be in three or six or nine years,” Ruhland suggested. “It’s about knowing where the puck going to go and skating aggressively to that spot.”

For media inquiries, please contact Katie James, ISA Public Relations Manager at or Aaron Putze, ISA Communications Director at

For permission to republish articles or to request high-res photos contact Aaron Putze at Iowa Soybean Association | 1255 SW Prairie Trail Pkwy | Ankeny | IA | 50023 | US

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