Photo Credit: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association

Tom Oswald, a past ISA president and soybean farmer from Cleghorn, has turned passion to action as a United Soybean Board (USB) director since 2014. (Photo Credit: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

USB Director Spotlight: Tom Oswald

November 11, 2021 | Brock Johnston

Building profit opportunities for soybean farmers across the country requires leadership with a deep-rooted passion and pulse on the industry’s future.

Tom Oswald, a soybean farmer from Cleghorn, has turned passion to action as a United Soybean Board (USB) director since 2014. He also serves as the USB Supply Action Team Chair and is currently finishing his last term as a national director.

Oswald, a past ISA president, is currently one of four Iowa soybean farmers currently appointed by the United States Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) on the USB.

To mark a milestone of service for soybean farmers, I asked Tom to share his insights into his time as a USB director and what the role has meant for him:

What has been the most rewarding experience you have had during your tenure as a USB director?

“As someone who loves agriculture and the farming profession, the biggest reward to me personally has been spending time with farmers from different regions – in some cases countries – and seeing firsthand how similar, yet different the soybean industry can be.

It’s difficult to imagine how different production and marketing challenges are from South Carolina, Arkansas, up in North Dakota or in New York until you spend time and thought with farmers from different regions of the country.”

What is United Soybean Board doing to ensure soy checkoff investments work for soybean farmers?

“When thinking about how USB checkoff investments for soybean farmers in Iowa and across the country, it’s important to paint a broader picture as USB working for all U.S. checkoff paying farmers.

One may consider the best analogy being, ‘A rising tide lifts all boats,’ when speaking on research and production as we are tasked with this national responsibility.

When compared to Iowa Soybean Association (ISA), the perspectives we take as national directors regarding soy supply and production research will differ as we consider a larger geographic area than the nimbler, Iowa-focused way ISA would see.

At USB, I need to consider how drought research in North Carolina or flood tolerance in Arkansas impacts Iowa soybean farmers, who often experience multi-week wet or dry spells themselves. For Iowa, these events can even happen in the same growing season, making conversations like these even more valuable.

Both entities ensure checkoff investments are working for farmers, but given soybeans are grown throughout the United States, USB’s approach focuses on connecting those dots to create a return to the farmers’ checkoff dollar.”

Any other thoughts regarding your role on USB and how it relates to Iowa soybean farmers?

“As a national director, I remain hopeful in the decisions I make to help Iowa farmers by ensuring USB is heading in the right direction in supporting and complimenting the work of the Iowa Soybean Association.

When this happens, the leverage is powerful.”