The National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) has named John Becherer, CEO of the United Soybean Board, as the 2012 Agribusiness Leader of the Year. This award, which is NAMA’s highest honor, will be presented at the Opening General Session of the 2012 Agri-Marketing Conference, “Acres of Innovation,” April 19, 2012, in Kansas City, Missouri.
The award honors outstanding leaders in agribusiness, education, government service or other agribusiness-related areas who exemplify excellence in agribusiness by their significant contributions to the industry.
For nearly 18 years, John Becherer has guided the Board of more than 60 volunteer U.S. soybean farmer-directors through times of growth and change as it evolved from its inception in 1991 to 2011, when the Board marked its 20th anniversary. Soybeans have seen a 140% increase in global demand for the two decades of USB’s existence and Becherer helped build this growth at a pace that has outperformed global demand for any other major U.S. row crop. For example, soybean prices set an all-time record in 2008 and have remained strong ever since, despite the downturn in some of the other U.S. agricultural sectors and the general global economy.
But Becherer isn’t allowing USB and the rest of the U.S. soy industry to sit back and coast.. In 2011 alone, he helped USB farmer-leaders:
- create a new long-range strategic plan;
- develop a new effort that could redefine how the marketplace determines the value of U.S. soy and reward U.S. soybean farmers for quality; and
- direct the first formal, independent, third-party assessment of USB’s governance and structure in nearly 20 years.
In 2010, Becherer engaged private industry to more effectively build confidence among consumers about today’s agriculture and our food supply by helping to create the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA), which has grown to include more than 70 major U.S. farm and commodity organizations from just 20 when it began.
Becherer has also helped to narrow USB’s focus, encouraging the board to reduce the number of its priority issues from five down to two through a board-wide, comparative voting process. This has increased USB’s effectiveness in addressing short-term opportunities or challenges that merit immediate attention by the soybean checkoff, such as supporting the leading user of U.S. soy, the animal agriculture sector, and conducting activities that will increase public and private investment to improve U.S. transportation infrastructure.
Becherer also helped identify the need for QUALISOY, a unique U.S. soybean-industry organization consisting of farmer-leaders of the soybean checkoff and associations, as well as representatives from food- and feed-industry organizations, researchers and others. Their mission is to facilitate the development of new U.S. soybean varieties with enhanced traits. QUALISOY, which Becherer also helps lead, brings competing interests to the same table and develops a consensus on how the U.S. soy industry can meet future food, feed and fuel needs.
The soybean checkoff is the leading farmer-funded soy research and promotion program in the world and provides U.S. soybean farmers with a competitive advantage in an increasingly competitive international agricultural sector.
In addition to helping create the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance, Becherer took a leading role in creating the Commodity Checkoff Roundtable. It serves as an opportunity for non-farmer/producer leaders of U.S. commodity checkoffs to share successes and improve the effectiveness of all farmer-funded research and promotion programs.
Becherer is also a long-time member of such prominent U.S. agricultural industry organizations as the National Agri-Marketing Association, the National Association of Farm Broadcasting, and the St. Louis Agribusiness Club. Becherer received the 2009 Agribusiness Leader of the Year Award from the St. Louis club.
Congratulations to John and the U.S. soybean industry for this significant accomplishment.