USSEC Holds Board & Annual Meeting in Minneapolis
- General News
USSEC held its board and annual meeting at the Minneapolis Hilton on September 8 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. USSEC board members, USSEC members, USSEC staff, and other U.S. Soy stakeholders were in attendance.
USSEC CEO Jim Sutter’s report included the results of USSEC’s global climate survey. He described the organization’s strengths in accountability, its understanding of staff contribution to goals, and its understanding of strategy and goals as “things we can build upon” and said improvement opportunities included increased collaboration, improving communication, and sharing best practices.
Mr. Sutter said that USSEC’s goal is to be a great contractor. “If we’re not serving our clients well, we don’t have a role. It’s as simple as that.”
The promotion of Vijay Anand, Country Director – India, was announced. Dr. Anand will now serve as the Deputy Regional Lead for the Asian Subcontinent (ASC).
USSEC gained 14 new members, a 20 percent increase, over the course of the past year. The organization now boasts 75 total members. Mr. Sutter described the greatest benefit of USSEC membership as an opportunity to be part of the global USSEC team. He said that U.S. Soy stakeholders have “a right and an obligation to be involved.”
USSEC is now in its third year as the secretariat to the International Soybean Growers Alliance (ISGA) as the organization moves forward as a global body.
Mr. Sutter also reported on capturing value from sustainable U.S. Soy, recapped the importance of NEVEDI’s acceptance of the U.S. Soy Sustainability Protocol (SSAP), and laid out the U.S. Soy family’s next steps as gaining approval from European Feed Manufacturers’ Federation (FEFAC) and the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive (RED). He described soy protein concentrate (SPC) as a value added opportunity for U.S. agriculture, especially as aquaculture continues its tremendous growth worldwide. Internally managed funds (IMF) accounts were another opportunity mentioned. Mr. Sutter said IMFs can be used to complement Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) and checkoff funds.
He concluded his report by saying that key USSEC values will guide the organization as it changes its approach to deal with changing markets. “It takes a team effort for us to be successful in creating a preference and differentiation for U.S. Soy.”
The board next turned its attention to new and unfinished business. USSEC CFO Phil Macias discussed the organization’s allocation model and the board approved FY17 funding as recommended by USSEC management. Next up were reports from the executive, audit and budget, governance and membership/industry relations committees.
Chairman Laura Foell’s report began with a look back on her past year of leadership, quoting the writer Oliver Wendell Holmes, “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old ways.”
She recounted her commitments to keeping USSEC a world-class organization. She stressed the importance of securing a top rating from FAS, keeping USSEC as a model for other cooperators, and being known throughout the industry, both in the U.S. and throughout the world.
Ms. Foell praised USSEC’s “best in class governance,” citing the USSEC board’s training, regular committee meetings and openness. She also talked about the importance of “guiding and listening” between the USSEC board, staff and other parts of the U.S. Soy family. She commended USSEC’s effectiveness, mentioning its increasing memberships, successful industry advisory council, joint mission to the EU with the National Oilseed Processors Association (NOPA) and global strategy.
“On a personal note, we are doing this, creating markets international markets for U.S. Soy, for the next generation,” she said, as she showed a photo of her two grown children, who will someday take over the Foell farm. “We want to make sure that our soybeans are there to feed the world.”
Retiring officers were announced. Jim Stillman, a fourth generation farmer from Iowa and former United Soybean Board (USB) chairman, stepped down from the board, together with John Wray, USB director from Kansas, who also worked with the World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) program.
The seating of new board members followed, with Derek Haigwood of Alabama taking the available USB position and Don Wyss of the Indiana Soybean Alliance (ISA) stepping into the Allied position. Laura Foell, Jim Miller, Sharon Covert and John Wright were unanimously reelected as chairman, vice chairman, secretary and treasurer, respectively.
Guest speaker Nancy Axelrod of Non-Profit Leadership Services presented a generative thinking session titled, “What Makes a Good Board Great,” saying that culture trumps structure.
A reception and board dinner followed that evening, with guest speaker Marty Ruikka, president of ProExporter Network, discussing ag economics.