Lentsch to Lead Soybean Board

Former South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture Lucas Lentsch has stepped into the CEO job for the United Soybean Board. Lynch says USB handles the national soybean checkoff dollars.

Every state that raises soybeans, essentially producers pay a checkoff and half of it stays local and half of it funds the national effort, and that in this case, that would be the United Soybean Board. It’s made up of 78 farmers, volunteer farmers from across the country that serve on the Board of Directors.

Lentsch says his past job experience made moving to USB a natural transition.

Anytime that you can take and have a have a journey of experience from animal agriculture all the way through to promotion and research. It’s a great fit. You know, for me personally, I was director of ag development and had a chance to oversee the Department of Ag for a few years. It was a great experience to learn all of animal agriculture and value-added processing. But the last eight years, I’ve been in the dairy promotion space and so working with Midwest Dairy or Dairy Management Incorporated, which is basically the counterpart to what a United Soybean Board is, at the National Dairy Checkoff. I’ve been learning the role of leadership, interacting with USDA, and really doing the work on behalf of farmers in the marketplace.

He tells SFN there are links between the dairy and soybean sectors of agriculture.

If you think about it, it’s a holistic life cycle from the fact that you plant a soybean, you raise that soybean, you ultimately harvest it, you crush it, and you make a meal out of it and that meal goes right back into the animal agriculture, poultry, and livestock pork, beef, dairy. All of that is our number one customers of the meal. And then if you think about the oil, the oil turns into, whether from human nutrition standpoint or that renewable energy, it is our biodiesel and renewable diesel varieties that we have in our country.

So what are some of the topics on the United Soybean Board’s radar this year?

Well, there’s no doubt that some of the most important research projects that face Soybean is ensuring the ongoing quality of what producers raise, and so the protein quality of the soybean, for example, has to maintain and getting better year over year. I would also just share that, you know, as you think about global markets, getting the infrastructure in place to get our product to market. One of the bodies of work that recently happened was a dredging study on the Mississippi, and that was a couple of years ago. Soybean Checkoff funded it, but it turned into a whole lot of other dollars coming in and really increasing the transportation channels, if you will, of the Mississippi River, the locks and dams, doing the projects that ensure viability long into the future.

Lentsch was the South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture from 2013 to 2016. I’m Mike Davis on the Southern Farm Network.

Photo credit: Joseph L. Murphy, USB