ISA Elects New Leadership and Fills District Director Positions

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) elected its 2011-12 leadership and filled open district director positions. Matt Hughes, a soybean farmer from Shirley, Ill., was chosen to lead the organization on Aug. 1.

"I am excited about helping lead the Illinois Soybean Association forward during the upcoming year," Hughes said. "We've gone through a lot of changes the past year with a new CEO and strategic plan. I am excited about working with our new board to implement our mission which is to ensure Illinois soy is the highest quality, most dependable, sustainable and competitive in the global marketplace."

Hughes previously was ISA vice chairman. He managed his family's farm near Litchfield through high school and college, and earned bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Illinois. He worked in agribusiness before returning to the farm as owner of Progressive Prairie, Inc. He has been part of the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Program and Executive Program for Ag Producers. He participates in Illinois Farm Bureau, McLean County Ag Club, Central Illinois Fiber Association, McLean County Board, 4-H and the Ag Guild of Illinois.

Also, elected to the ISA Executive Committee were: Bill Wykes of Yorkville as vice chairman, Rob Shaffer of El Paso as secretary, Doug Winter of Mill Shoals as treasurer, Bill Raben of Ridgway as assistant secretary-treasurer, Dan Farney of Morton as Production Committee chair and Dale Crawford of Sullivan as Marketing Committee chair.

The ISA Board voted to accept an ISA By-Laws Task Force recommendation to restructure committees from the current four to only two. As part of this recommendation, the Production Committee chairman and Marketing Committee chairman were added to the ISA Executive Committee.

The Production Committee will focus on yield, high quality, sustainability, image building and producer communications. The Marketing Committee will focus on animal agriculture, transportation, market access, industrial uses, aquaculture and other revenue. ISA's previous four committees were Demand, Supply, Public Affairs and Information and Education. The Board of Directors also approved the FY12 budget and projects, which will begin when the fiscal year starts on September 1, 2011. These will address the Board's new strategic direction, which was approved earlier this year.

Wykes served as ISA secretary last year and is a graduate of Illinois State University. He has been farming about 50 miles west of Chicago for 35 years. He is a member of the Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Corn Growers Association and Illinois Pork Producers Association. He has represented ISA on the National Biodiesel Board, Soy Transportation Coalition and World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH).

Shaffer is part of a fourth-generation family operation with his brother. He farms in Woodford and McLean counties, raising corn, soybeans and specialty soybeans and has an Angus cow-calf herd. He is active in Woodford County Farm Bureau and the Beta Delta Alumni Corporation Board of Alpha Gamma Rho. He earned a bachelor's degree from Illinois State University.

Winter returns as treasurer. He has a cash grain farm in partnership with his brother, Richard, and grows yellow food-grade and commercial corn, food-grade white corn, commercial soybeans and seed soybeans. He is a certified crop advisor and member of the American Society of Agronomists. As an ISA Board member, he has been affiliated with the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council, World Aquaculture Society and Soybean Research & Development Council. He has a bachelor's degree from Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Raben operates a family farm with his brother, and has been an active member of the Illinois Farm Bureau, Gallatin County Economic Task Force, Gallatin County Soil & Water Conservation District and Wabash Valley Service Company. He has a bachelor's degree in agronomy from Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

The ISA Executive Committee will now have seven members: the five elected plus the ISA Production Committee chair and Marketing Committee chair. Farney, who will lead the Production Committee, raises no-till soybeans and corn. He was an Illinois Soy Leader and is active in WISHH. In 2010, he joined others from ISA for a visit to Washington, D.C. to meet with Illinois legislators and attended a U.S. State Department award ceremony to recognize Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her efforts to curtail world hunger.

Crawford, who will head the Marketing Committee, has a fourth-generation family farm with wife, Suzy, and raises corn and soybeans and practices minimum- and no-till conservation. He has worked with the American Soybean Association (ASA) Agribusiness Council, North Central Soybean Research Program, National Biodiesel Board, Moultrie County Farm Bureau, Moultrie Grain Co-op, Moultrie-Sullivan Junior Fair Board, Sullivan School Board and Illinois Ag Leadership Program. He has a bachelor's degree in agriculture from the University of Illinois.

In other elections, Timothy Seifert from Auburn was elected to District 9, replacing retiring director Ed Mies of Loami. Seifert is an Auburn township trustee and director for the Sangamon County Farm Bureau. He has served the Illinois Corn Marketing Board in several leadership roles and is a past chairman of the Auburn School Board.

Michael Marron of Fithian will fill the District 7 position vacated by Mike Cunningham from Bismarck. He is a graduate of Murray State University and previous ISA Soy Ambassador. He serves as legislative affairs committee chair for the Vermilion County Farm Bureau and is on the farm policy task force for Illinois Farm Bureau. He is supervisor for Pilot township, president of the Illinois Haflinger Horse Association and Vermilion County Fair draft horse superintendent.

Gary Berg of St. Elmo is the new District 13 director, replacing C.W. Gaffner from Greenville. Berg is an ISA Soy Ambassador, member of the Illinois Corn Growers Association and past president of the Illinois Wheat Association. Berg also is a past St. Elmo School Board president and has been an active leader previously with the Fayette County ASCS Advisory Board, Fayette County Farm Bureau Board and Fayette County Bank Board of Directors.

The new District 1 director assuming the position from Karl Lawfer from Kent is Bob Colwell from Franklin Grove. He is a member of the Illinois Farm Bureau, president of Ashland Franklin Center School Board and is Franklin Grove Township Trustee.

Ron Moore, Roseville, and Joe Murphy, Harrisburg, were re-elected to two open at-large director positions. Also, re-elected were Farney, who will represent District 5 and Mark Sprague, Hull, who will represent District 12. The Board elected Dean Campbell of Coulterville to serve as one of three Illinois representatives on the ASA Board. Cunningham of Bismarck and Ron Kindred of Atlanta are Illinois' other two representatives.

About the Illinois Soybean Association

The Illinois Soybean Association is the statewide organization for Illinois soybean growers.  The farmers on its board administer soybean checkoff funds to support research, promotions, and educational programs designed to increase demand for Illinois soybeans and administer legislation and membership programs. For more information, visit: