Editor of the Iowa Soybean Review

Bethany Baratta, Iowa Soybean Review Editor (Photo: Joclyn Bushman/Iowa Soybean Association)

Rural Route 2: The value of direction

May 31, 2023 | Bethany Baratta

Nearly 1,000 miles away from Iowa, I sat in a brownstone home in Washington, D.C., two floors from street level, pondering my next adventure. Having landed a communications internship with the National Pork Producers Council, I had three months to make the most of my experience — personally and professionally.

To the west of my temporary D.C. home: A church once frequented by Robert Kennedy. Farther west on Constitution Avenue, the U.S. Capitol. I walked past these landmarks (and more) each day en route to work. It was surreal living in the nation’s capital. Coming from a town of 1,000 people, the monuments seemed to stand taller than they probably appeared to others. And the views never got old.

My time in D.C. was before smartphones — or, at least before I owned a smartphone. Nights were filled with dinners with roommates — all who were randomly assigned based on internship location by a student housing program — plotting our weekend sightseeing adventures. There were cathedrals to visit, Smithsonian museums to peruse and souvenirs to be purchased. There were post-work wing specials and even the filming of a “Transformers” movie to witness.

But in an unfamiliar territory, I needed solid directions. I had stacks of maps. One for the metro, one for the city. Then I overlayed online turn-by-turn directions (á la MapQuest) and bus routes to determine the most efficient way to reach my destination.

More than a decade after my time in D.C., I still rely on good directions. Iowa’s soybean industry relies on solid direction from its farmer-leaders, those elected to its board of directors.

I admire the path Iowa Soybean Association directors establish — personally and professionally — too. Writing the biographies for the 17 candidates for various open seats in this year’s election, I saw a wide range of farming and life experiences. Those diverse experiences help pave the path for fellow soybean farmers and the industry.

If you annually market 250 bushels of soybeans, you can expect a voting guide and additional voting instructions in the mail soon. Think about how these candidates can help move the industry forward. Your voice (and vote!) matters in your farm journey, and I hope you’ll take the opportunity to vote and connect with directors. Together, I know we can continue to find the right route to success.