Participants in the 2020 Communications Squad sit attentively in a meeting at the ISA office in Ankeny. From left: Pat Murken of Story City, Aimee Bissell of Bedford, Tarin Tiefenthaler of Carroll, Jim Fitkin of Cedar Falls, Dave Struthers of Collins and Ethan Crow of Marshalltown.Photo Credit: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association
ISA Communications Squad provides value to members
May 14, 2020 | Katie James
When it comes to a return on investment, the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) knows that for farmers, time is one of the most precious commodities. And for soybean farmer members, ISA is driven to deliver that bang for the buck.
Farmer members have several opportunities with ISA after activating their membership. Be it research trials with the ISA Research Center for Farming Innovation to find the best agronomic fit for their farms, or the ISA Experience Class to deliver a firsthand account on the many ways ISA serves farmers.
A program in its third year aims to offer farmers that same ROI. The ISA Communications Squad is driven to empower farmers to be better spokespersons for Iowa agriculture.
“Besides the fun of just getting together with other like-minded producers, I’ve really gotten to see the importance of farmers telling the farmer’s story,” said Ethan Crow, an ISA farmer member from Marshalltown. “The encouragement to do media interviews is good because it’s important we get to speak for ourselves.”
Farmers telling farmers’ stories is the goal of the Communications Squad. To do this, farmers meet four times per year to get the latest updates on industry issues, meet and speak face-to-face with television, radio and newspaper reporters, watch other farmers complete media interviews and analyze the best strategies for getting accurate messages to the public.
When it comes to issue updates, ISA has top-of-line industry experts representing trade, transportation, research, biofuels, policy and much more. In visiting with the Communications Squad at each meeting, farmer members get the latest updates, opportunities to ask questions and discuss issues impacting their operations.
“Its important farmers take advantage of the staff at ISA”, says Grant Kimberley, director of market development. “We work each day to gather the information and help farmers understand the global issues effecting them. We are here to share knowledge and resources with our farmers.”
Kimberley has spoken to the group several times on issues related to trade with China and the ins-and-outs of the biodiesel industry and is one of the top-rated value items farmers identified.
In 2019, 100% of Communications Squad participants reported value in being a part of the program. Farmers placed the most value on industry updates and firsthand interactions with reporters. The closing survey found more than 80% of farmers completing the program rated themselves as “highly comfortable” talking with reporters and non-ag audiences and 100% of participants reported they felt more comfortable than before they joined.
Every farmer can benefit from this program, including new and experienced, male and female, and small or large. This year, the squad contains 28 farmer, doubling in size from its inaugural year in 2018.
“I’ve gotten to talk with new people and share my story,” said Crow. “That’s an opportunity I wouldn’t have had if it wasn’t for the Communications Squad.”
The central Iowa farmer is one of many ISA members taking advantage of the programs and offerings that come with activating a farmer membership.
Learn more about the program here.