The board of directors of the American Soybean Association approved a comprehensive strategic plan that will strengthen the organization's efforts on policy and trade. The plan, approved by the ASA board at its annual winter meetings in St. Louis this week, will guide the association's activity to the year 2021.
"We are a proud organization with a long history of driving profitability for our farmer members, and this plan will help ensure that we progress in that role over the next five years," said ASA President Wade Cowan, a farmer from Brownfield, Texas. "In 2020, ASA will celebrate 100 years of championing the issues of soybean farmers, and there is no better way to honor that legacy than by making the strategic changes necessary to ensure our organization is strong and agile for years to come."
The strategic plan will make the following changes with the end goal of focusing the ASA mission more centrally on policy and trade benefiting soybean farmers:
• ASA will add additional policy personnel and resources to the association by shifting resources previously and currently devoted to membership recruitment, partnering with states to invest in ASA's leadership development programs, and restructuring board representation formulas.
• ASA will respond to state affiliate requests to provide total flexibility to states to structure and conduct membership how they believe will be most effective in their states by replacing national membership dues with tiered state affiliate investment levels in the national organization.
• The plan will restructure the ASA Board of Directors and its committees so that the Board spends its time focused on policy and trade issues of importance to soybean farmers.
• ASA will also revise board meeting formats to accomplish the above objectives.
• Finally, ASA will establish, in partnership with states, a Soy Regulatory Issues Coalition to provide analysis and actionable information on the growing list of environmental and regulatory issues we must confront at state and national levels.
"These changes will strengthen ASA's advocacy work, and we'll continue those other focus areas of ASA that allow us to be effective for soybean farmers," said Cowan. "We'll continue world-class leadership development programs to train leaders and develop spokespersons to engage influencers, state affiliate partnering and collaboration, communications efforts, corporate partnering to leverage the support of industry, Commodity Classic, and ASA leadership in international marketing and trade issues through USSEC and WISHH."
The plan is the product of nearly two years of discussions by an ASA task force comprised of farmer leaders and state and national soybean staff, led by former association president Steve Wellman, a farmer from Syracuse, Neb.
"This plan was something that we needed to get right. It wasn't quick, and it wasn't easy, but we believe the end product is a roadmap for advancing our success on behalf of the nation's soybean farmers," Wellman said. "We have world-class ideas here at ASA, with farmer-leaders and staff that are motivated and enlightened to bring those ideas to reality. Our strategic plan will help ensure that the nuts and bolts of our association are structured in such a way that enables our strengths to shine through."