Iowa Soybean Association Chief Executive Officer

(Photo: Joclyn Bushman/Iowa Soybean Association)

Executive Insights: All about growth

February 7, 2023 | Kirk Leeds

Much is said, written and discussed regarding the importance of growth. Key to growing personally and professionally is a willingness to invest the time and effort necessary to gain knowledge and new skills. This commitment strengthens abilities and capabilities and sharpens focus and resolve.

We’re known for growth here at the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA). It’s why I came to work for ISA 30 years ago and never left. We grow:

  • Soybeans and market demand;
  • Relationships with policymakers and food-minded Iowans;
  • Farmer and Advocate membership;
  • The number of farmers involved in carbon reduction programs;
  • The pace and scale of environmental practices proven to improve water quality and soil health;
  • Collaboration and cooperation with industry partners; and
  • Our reach and influence.

Growth is synonymous with vitality and strength. It’s why ISA’s brand promise, “Driven to Deliver” is so on the mark.

Accomplishments don’t happen in a vacuum. They are people-driven. Farmers founded and fund ISA, determine the organization’s priority programs, and closely monitor activities and results. They engage with other farmers, industry leaders and policymakers to increase soybean production and demand.

A dedicated staff then takes the baton, leading our Supply, Demand, Information & Education and Public Affairs committees and programming. With oversight by the ISA board, nationally recognized initiatives have been launched to better serve farmers. Examples include the Iowa Food & Family Project, Soy Transportation Coalition, North Central Soybean Research Program, Research Center for Farming Innovation, Iowa Biodiesel Board, Iowa Ag Water Alliance, Midwest Soybean Collaborative, AgOutcomes, Conservation Agronomy Network, Policy Leaders Fellowship and U.S. Soybean Research Collaborative.

As we identify new and innovative ways to serve soybean farmers, ISA’s office that opened its doors 12 years ago in Ankeny must also grow. This spring, construction will begin to add 12,000 additional square feet of space. It will be suitable for adding professional staff, hosting conferences and trade delegations, and fostering greater collaboration. Just like the original construction, the “new west wing” will be self-financed. It will feature geothermal and soybased building materials where appropriate and feasible. If all goes as planned, construction will be complete in 2024 and coincide with ISA’s 60th anniversary.

Cutting the ribbon on this new addition will be a tangible indicator of the soybean industry’s continued strength and vitality. Here’s to a very bright future for a people-first ISA and a soybean industry that’s always growing to make the most of opportunity – and, when necessary – create it.