NEW HOPE, Ala – Sam Butler, a fifth-generation farmer, was recently appointed to the United Soybean Board by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.
The board does not directly lobby in Washington D.C., instead they focus on opening up new markets and maximizing profits for farmers.
“Their mission is opening markets, improving production practices and technology,” said Butler, who runs a family farm in New Hope.
Butler says his non-paid role will hopefully allow him to better serve soybean farmers who are actively seeking new trade partners.
“I think people would rather talk to another farmer than someone involved in government,” said Butler.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted different sectors of the agriculture economy over the last few months. Butler says the soybean market wasn’t terrible, but prices could have been better. Farmers are used to rather inconsistent incomes, pandemics aside. However, it’s the ongoing trade wars that have left a bigger mark on soybean producers.
“Short-term, I mean yes, it was a negative – in regard to soybean prices especially,” said Butler.
With a new administration inbound, Butler wonders how trade issues with China will look in the near future.
“The wheel has already been in motion. You can’t just flip back to the way it was, I don’t think,” said Butler.
While there’s only so much Butler and the United Soybean Board can control, Butler wants to be a resource for local soybean farmers.
“My door is open. Definitely!” said Butler.
The United Soybean Board has 78 representatives from 29 states. Alabama has two board members. As a whole, Alabama is not considered to be a major soybean producer.