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Commodity Leaders Join Forces on Sustainability Research
South Dakota Ag Connection - 11/08/2018

The National Pork Board (NPB), United Soybean Board (USB) and National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) announced Wednesday the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on a sustainability research platform that will benefit all three organizations and their producers. This research program will include the sharing of completed research, coordination on current and planned research and define ways to share and communicate results with each organization's members.

Leadership from the three commodity groups agree that it is prudent to consider specific ways in which they might work together more effectively to ensure alignment and collaboration in sustainability research and how the results can and will be communicated and shared.

"Sustainability is defined by the We Care ethical principles pork producers established over 10 years ago," said National Pork Board President Steve Rommereim, a pig farmer from Alcester, S.D. "Joining in the efforts of two other organizations, as a collective group we can more effectively spend producer dollars to achieve the goals we can all believe in and support. Without one, we wouldn't have the other."

An overarching goal of proactive, continuous improvement is a shared focus among pork, soybean and corn producers.

"Most farmers are invested in multiple commodities and invested in more than one of our organizations, so it's important that we are collaborating wherever we can," said Lewis Bainbridge, USB chair and soybean and livestock farmer from South Dakota. "We need to be supportive of one another, especially now when there's more interest in what we're doing to produce our commodities. We need to be looking at the big picture of how our commodities work together and take that a step further."

Through combined communications efforts and outreach, the organizations can increase the education, capacity and motivation of pig and grain farmers to adopt conservation measures that deliver benefits to the environment and to farm resilience and profitability.

"NCGA's targeted focus -- whether it's policy, market development or research -- is to grind more corn and do it profitably. However, in areas like sustainability and research where we share goals and values in our industry, it is just plain smart to work in collaboration," said Lynn Chrisp, NCGA president of Hastings, Neb. "This memorandum will encourage increased communications, further sharing of staff and funding resources, pool expertise, and ultimately makes us all more effective."

A task force of farmer representatives from NPB, USB and NCGA will be formed and, with support from each organization, will be responsible for managing and evaluating the activities outlined in the MOU. Additionally, the task force will track progress and evaluate the value and impact of the MOU upon completion of all activities.

NPB has responsibility for Checkoff-funded research, promotion and consumer information projects and for communicating with pork producers and the public. Through a legislative national Pork Checkoff, pork producers invest $0.40 for each $100 value of hogs sold. Importers of pork products contribute a like amount, based on a formula. The Pork Checkoff funds national and state programs in advertising, consumer information, retail and foodservice marketing, export market promotion, production improvement, science and technology, swine health, pork safety and sustainability and environmental management.

USB's 73 farmer-directors work on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers to achieve maximum value for their soy checkoff investments. These volunteers invest and leverage checkoff funds in programs and partnerships to drive soybean innovation beyond the bushel and increase preference for U.S. soy. That preference is based on U.S. soybean meal and oil quality and the sustainability of U.S. soybean farmers. As stipulated in the federal Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soy checkoff.

Founded in 1957, NCGA represents more than 40,000 dues-paying corn farmers nationwide and the interests of more than 300,000 growers who contribute through corn checkoff programs in their states. NCGA and its 49 affiliated state organizations work together to create and increase opportunities for corn growers.

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