Conway soybean producer, Joe Thrash, was selected to serve on the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board in September.
The board is made up of nine soybean farmers throughout the state. Each board member is appointed by the governor and serves a two-year-term. Members are nominated by one of four agriculture organizations including the Arkansas Soybean Association, Riceland Foods, the Farm Bureau and the Agricultural Council of Arkansas. Thrash was nominated by the Farm Bureau.
It is the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board’s job to distribute funds from the National Soybean Checkoff program, an assessment collected on one-half of one percent of the net market price of soybeans collected at the first point of sale. Half of the money collected stays with the state, and the other half goes toward the United Soybean Board.
The Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board then uses this money to improve the profitability of soybean production by funding research and extension projects.
Although board members contribute many hours administering the program, serving on the board is on a volunteer basis with no pay.
Thrash serves as a member of the board for the Arkansas River Valley region. As a resident of Conway and a farmer of Lollie Bottoms, Thrash said he knows the needs of the farmer.
“From a farmers perspective, I know where money should be spent as far as research and promotion,” he said.
Lanny Ashlock, of Conway, has a doctorate in agronomy, or the science of soil management and crop production, and is known throughout the state as “Mr. Soybean” for his career as an extension soybean specialist and agronomist with the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.
In 2010, Ashlock was appointed as research coordinator of the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board and moved into his current project management position with the board in April of 2013. As project manager, Ashlock assists the Board by reviewing research, extension and promotion proposals to make sure they relate to the purpose of the allocated funds.
“[Farmers] feel a great responsibility with the money they give up to support this industry,” Ashlock said, “and I get great joy in helping them make the best decision they can.”
Ashlock has assisted the Board in approving more than 40 projects for research. One new proposal the board has approved, he said, gives fellowships to graduate students conducting soybean research at Arkansas universities.
On March 8, Ashlock was inducted into the Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame, and resigned from the U of A March 31. Ashlock said he enjoys his time with the board because it allows him to continue his work as an agronomist.
“It allows me to continue to enjoy working with these great farmers and the soybean industry of Arkansas,” he said.
Arkansas ranks No. 10 in the nation for soybean production, producing 136 million bushels a year valued at more than $2 billion.
The Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board was first established by Act 259 of the 1971 General Assembly to provide soybean producers an organization to which they can work to improve the soybean industry.
Thrash has been producing soybeans at Lollie Bottoms for 25 years. His 900-acre farm is split between soybeans, wheat, corn and occasionally a bit of rice, he said.
“During my time as a board member I hope to accomplish wise decisions on how the money is spent,” Thrash said. “There’s many dollars to spend and I hope to see that it’s spent wisely and not squandered away.”
(Staff writer Michelle Corbet can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1215. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)