Sun sets orange over an Iowa farmstead.

ISA is Driven To Deliver through challenging times

December 15, 2020 | Lauren Houska

It’s easy to start counting the events that made 2020 a year for the history books. Global pandemic. Drought. Derecho. Election chaos. The list goes on. 

The Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) recognizes the seriousness of these events and the impacts they had (and are still having) on farmers across Iowa. ISA started the year “Driven To Deliver” results for its members, and through it all, that has remained the goal. ISA continues to bring together farmers, industry experts and partners, communities and a staff that is “Driven To Deliver” results to members in these key checkoff areas: 

Information & Education

ISA provides information tailored to the needs of Iowa soybean farmers, enabling timely decision making and offering important news and updates. 

As soon as in-person meetings were no longer feasible, ISA staff went to work finding new ways to keep farmers up to date with the latest news f rom the organization and its partners. ISA conducted a series of “Continuity through COVID-19” webinars in the spring, allowing members the opportunity to ask questions and voice their concerns. 

“I was able to tune into the webinar via phone while I was working,” says Lacona ISA member Randy Miller. “I appreciated the short presentations. They allowed for quick hits with valuable information that kept my interest. ISA made it easy for me to jump in and not feel like I was missing information.” 

Virtual meeting options continue to be available when needed and are now a well-tested tool that can help ISA staff connect with farmers across the state. 

“It is fantastic to have these new digital tools in our arsenal, providing additional ways for ISA to connect with our members,” says ISA Sr. Dir. of Information & Education Aaron Putze. 

ISA also launched a new website in September. Farmers can easily activate or validate their membership through the membership tab. News content, research tools and staff contact information are now available at farmers’ fingertips. 

“ISA hasn’t missed a beat in delivering both quick hits of information and in-depth stories on topics that matter most to soybean farmers,” says Putze. 

Read these stories at www.iasoybeans.com/newsroom. 

Soybean Demand

ISA builds domestic demand, new uses and global exports to strengthen soybean sales. 

“Our work growing domestic demand hasn’t stopped,” says ISA Director of Market Development Grant Kimberley. “We’re still supporting important research developing new uses and promoting biodiesel.” 

He says ISA continues to collaborate with important demand-boosting partners, including United Soybean Board, Iowa Biodiesel Board and the Soy Aquaculture Alliance. These collaborations yielded an array of new uses like soy-based asphalt, sustainable footwear and environmentally f riendly construction materials. 

“There are some exciting things to come next year as we deepen these partnerships and grow relationships with our fellow soybean-growing states,” Kimberley says. 

ISA’s work building global demand hasn’t stopped, either. Learn more about ISA’s efforts to build international markets and maintain buyer relationships in the November issue of the Iowa Soybean Review, available at www.iasoybeans.com/magazine. 

Soybean Production

ISA conducts and shares farmer-focused agronomic and conservation research and results to improve soybean yields, profitability and sustainability. 

The ISA Research Center for Farming Innovation continues to lead research projects with farmers, taking advantage of ISA’s virtual meeting capabilities when necessary. 

“Staff has demonstrated continued commitment to serving Iowa’s soybean farmers through our strong work ethic, flexibility and innovation developing, fund and deliver integrated programs for increased farmer profits and profitability via improved agronomics, conservation and science-based and data-driven analytics and decision tools,” says ISA Senior Director of Research Ed Anderson. “We conduct our work in-person on the farm and at other locations and venues when possible and virtually when in-person meetings and work are not prudent.” 

Their most popular webinar, “4Rs for Increased Profitability,” provides information on how to increase profitability using 4R Nutrient Stewardship. The four-part series includes information f rom subject-matter experts on market updates, recent advances in nutrient management, new tools for increasing profitability as well as methods to reduce off-target nutrient losses. 

The ISA Research team also utilizes webinars to provide targeted watershed information to four priority watersheds. The information helps farmers understand their farm’s role in the success of watershed planning. 

Watch these webinars at www.iasoybeans.com/research. 

Ag Awareness

ISA engages directly with food-minded Iowans to enhance their trust in modern agriculture. 

“This year has been an opportunity to work on flexibility and creativity in our content and program offerings,” says ISA Ag Awareness Manager Kelly Visser. She leads the Iowa Food & Family Project (Iowa FFP). “Instead of completely walking away f rom the in-person events we had scheduled, we bring that content directly to our audiences via their social media feeds.” 

This effort kicked off with a virtual learning series, allowing consumers to hop inside a tractor during planting season and tag along on morning livestock chores. Iowa FFP also served up some virtual Iowa State Fair fun through state fair-themed recipes, featuring Iowa commodities and blog stories that dove deeper into the farmers who grow those www.iowafoodandfamily.com. 

ISA’s agriculture awareness efforts also include CommonGround Iowa. The program trains women who are leaders in agriculture to effectively share their stories with other women across the state who want to learn more about food and farming. 

“Though we haven’t been able to meet consumers face-to-face, we’ve ramped up what we’re doing on social media” says Corine Rowe, a farmer f rom Dallas Center recently featured on CommonGround Iowa’s newly-launched Instagram account. “This program has helped me learn new tools and techniques for engaging with consumers about what I do on my farm.” 

Learn more about the work ISA does on the behalf of soybean farmers at www.iasoybeans.com/OurWork. 

This story was originally published in the December 2020 issue of the Iowa Soybean Review.

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