The United Soybean Board (USB) and soybean checkoff recently honored an individual who has devoted his career to studying the nutritional and health attributes of soy and another who helped transform China into the largest importer of U.S. soy.
At Commodity Classic, USB presented its Outstanding Achievement Award to Mark Messina, Ph.D., executive director of the Soy Nutrition Institute. The USB Excellence in International Marketing Award went to Phil Laney, retired U.S. Soybean Export Council country director for China.
Messina helped initiate a multi-million-dollar research project on the anti-cancer effects of soybeans with the National Cancer Institute in 1990. Since 1994, Messina, with support from the soybean checkoff, has organized international meetings to stimulate research on the health properties of soybeans.
Additionally, he serves as chairperson of the editorial advisory board for The Soy Connection, a checkoff-funded quarterly newsletter that educates 250,000 health professionals on the benefits of soyfoods. “I feel quite honored to receive this award,” says Messina. “It is gratifying to be recognized by U.S. soybean farmers and the checkoff, which has been so instrumental in supporting the message to which I am dedicated — that soyfoods deserve a place at the table.”
When Laney became the country director in China in 1995, that country imported about 2.4 million bushels of U.S. soy. Just eight years later, in 2003, China imported 283 million bushels. And last year, China imported 825 million bushels of U.S. soybeans, or about one out of every four rows of soybeans grown in the United States.
Laney says the Chinese people continue to eat more meat, fish and eggs, driving China’s demand for U.S. soy to process into animal feed. “This is kind of overwhelming to be recognized by U.S. soybean farmers,” says Laney, who retired in September. “It was because the checkoff was willing to invest in the Chinese market that we were able to expand our programs and take advantage of the opportunities in China.”
USB proudly recognizes individuals, organizations or companies whose achievements make positive impacts on the U.S. soybean industry or the soybean checkoff. The USB Excellence Award rotates among its five checkoff program areas: communications, domestic marketing, new uses, production research and, this year, international marketing.
USB is made up of 69 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. Checkoff funds are invested in the areas of animal utilization, human utilization, industrial utilization, industry relations, market access and supply. As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff.
For more information on the United Soybean Board, visit us at http://www.unitedsoybean.org.