Looking to leverage soybean checkoff funds, reduce redundancy and prioritize local research, soybean farmer leaders from Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Virginia have agreed to create a regional research consortium.
Ellen Matthews Davis of West Point, Va., was recently hired to lead the new regional consortium.
Davis had served as executive director of the Virginia Small Grains and Corn Growers Associations and as an ex officio member of the Small Grains and Corn Checkoff Boards until 2006. She currently serves as chairman of the Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom, is the representative from New Kent County to the Board of Directors for Rappahannock Community College and serves on the Virginia Small Grains Checkoff Board. She and her husband, Ray, are partners in 2,800-acre grain farm operation in central Virginia.
Davis was appointed State Director of Rural Development in 2006 by President George W. Bush and reappointed in 2009 by President Barack Obama. An agency of the USDA, Rural Development forges partnership with rural communities and helps provide funding for housing, community facilities, rural businesses, utilities and other services to improve the quality of life and economic opportunity in these communities. She retired from that position in January 2014.
“I am very excited to be working again with the agricultural community in the Mid-Atlantic area,” said Davis. “It is especially gratifying to be working with innovative farmer leadership who recognize the importance of regional alliances.”
Development of the consortium is supported by the soybean checkoff, which assesses one-half of one percent of the net market value of soybeans at their first point of sale to support soybean research, marketing and education programs.
One-half of the checkoff funds stay in Maryland for programs; the other half is sent to the United Soybean Board. Both the United Soybean Board and the region’s state soybean boards are financially supporting the project, led by the Maryland Soybean Board.
“We’re pleased to welcome Ellen Davis,” says William Layton, a Dorchester County, Md., farmer and chairman of the Maryland Soybean Board. “Her experience in the agricultural community is well suited to lead the organization through its start-up process.”