ISA farmer-members enjoyed an evening of socializing at 99 Bottles Winery and Vineyard near Garner (Photo: Iowa Soybean Association)
Social interaction, education and policy centered around eight ISA district meetings
September 24, 2021 | Kriss Nelson
The Iowa Soybean Association’s (ISA) 2021 district meetings have wrapped up, and it was a whirlwind summer for ISA’s producer services team, staff and board members as they hosted eight meetings throughout the state.
Sponsored by FMC, the events offered a variety of socializing and educational opportunities – something different from previous years.
ISA’s Producer Services Coordinators Bre Wagner, Carrie Kelly and Whitley Frieden were excited to be back in person this year.
“It’s been great to see so many members come out and join us for our district meetings,” says Wagner. “With meeting activities ranging from a boat tour to a baseball game, hearing from Bill Northey to touring a fish farm, there were all kinds of options for folks to try something new this summer.
After a year of no meetings due to COVID-19, it was great to see people and have the chance to catch up in person.”
Mike and Barbara Henning, farmer-members from Waterloo, say they enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about ISA’s efforts and catch a baseball game.
“I appreciated the brief updates from staff members and the one-on-one discussions,” Mike says. “I really appreciate ISA’s research studies and reporting, especially as they relate to environmental issues. Information on emerging production traits was also of interest. It is nice to get to know who I can call on for questions in the future.”
David Rossman attended the district meeting properly titled “Shake the Lake” as the group set sail on Lake Okoboji.
It wasn’t your typical setting for the district meeting, but Rossman says he enjoyed the change. Getting together with other soybean producers as well as state and national soybean industry representatives was a unique opportunity.
American Soybean Association (ASA) Director Brian Kemp and United Soybean Board (USB) Director Tom Oswald spoke to the group, providing national checkoff updates, while District 1 Directors Chuck White and Brent Swart, and Stephanie Essick, director at large and ASA member, spoke on behalf of ISA.
“Each of the board members gave a little talk, and although I have known all of them personally for quite a while, I was really impressed with the information they presented,” Rossman says.
Perry Black from Barnum attended two district meetings this year, taking the opportunities to attend the roundtable with Bill Northey, former USDA Undersecretary, and tour Eagle’s Catch tilapia farm in Ellsworth.
Black says he appreciates the opportunities given to attend ISA district meetings.
“The Iowa Soybean Association is out there, staying engaged with producers and keeping us in the know for what is going on. It always gives me a chance to talk to people that can carry questions that I have also back to their meetings,” he says.
Following a year of delayed and cancelled events, farmer members were eager to engage, says Michael Dolch, ISA public affairs director.
Dolch educated the groups about trade, biofuels, taxes and infrastructure since the issues are top of mind for soybean farmers.
“We continue to share the concerns and real-life examples they have raised with our state and federal policymakers to let them know how concerned farmers are about various legislative proposals and what they could potentially be forced to pay as input costs chase higher crop prices,” he says.
Dolch says farmer members are happy that improvements are being considered to physical infrastructures, such as roads, bridges, locks and dams, but are approaching each proposal with cautious optimism.
“They don’t want infrastructure upgrades to happen at the expense of stepped-up basis being eliminated or other devastating tax changes,” he says.
Regardless of policy or issues facing farmers today, Dolch says the farmer-members all brought a positive vibe to the meetings.
“There was a great turnout, which goes to show they have missed the engagement,” he says. “The fellowship and camaraderie were a highlight throughout the meeting series.”
This story was originally published in the October 2021 issue of the Iowa Soybean Review.