The soybean industry, which has developed so rapidly during the last ten years must depend on our Association for leadership. It is only through our organization that the varied and specific interests can join to work for the common cause.
G. G. McIlroy, President, American Soybean Association
November 1940

It all began in 1920 in Indiana

  • 1920 – National Soybean Growers’ Association is founded (later renamed)

    From the left are Soyland Farm owners Taylor, Finis, and Noah Fouts of Camden, Indiana, as they hosted the First Corn Belt Soybean Field Day on September 3, 1920.

    The “First Corn Belt Soybean Field Day” was held on September 3, 1920 in Camden, Indiana. It was hosted at Soyland Farms, owned by brothers and pioneer soybean growers Taylor, Finis, and Noah Fouts, and organized with the backing of the Indiana Agricultural Experiment Station and the Extension Service at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.

    In addition to field tours, there was a program of soybean production and marketing talks by staff from several extension services and universities, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and prominent soybean farmers. Following the program, the growers in attendance determined that a specific organization was needed to help promote and develop soybean production and utilization in America. That day, growers founded the National Soybean Growers’ Association (later to be renamed American Soybean Association) and Taylor Fouts was elected its first president.

  • 1925 – Name changes to American Soybean Association

    After the organization’s name was changed to American Soybean Association in 1925, this first logo was created.

    At the December 1925 annual meeting of the National Soybean Growers’ Association, attendees voted to change the name of the organization to American Soybean Association. A constitution and bylaws for the organization were presented and adopted by a unanimous vote.

  • 1931 – First major export of U.S. soybeans

    This photo shows an early soybean field. In the 10 years from 1919 to 1929, U.S. soybean production grew from 1.08 million bushels to 9.44 million bushels, soon leading to the opportunity to start exporting U.S. soybeans.

    In 1931, the first major export of U.S. soybeans took place. Approximately 2 million bushels were exported to Europe, mainly to Scandinavian countries, Belgium and the Netherlands.

  • 1936 – CBOT launches a soybean futures contract

    Traders hard at work exchanging soybean futures contracts in a pit formerly reserved for corn.

    By the fall of 1936, the supply of soybeans available in commercial markets justified a move by the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) to launch a soybean futures contract. In October 1936, the first transaction was for 5,000 bushels of soybeans sold at $1.20 per bushel.

  • 1940 – ASA hires its first paid executive

    George Strayer, ASA executive secretary, the association’s first paid employee.

    By 1940, leaders of the American Soybean Association believed it was strategically important to create a paid executive position. At ASA’s 1940 annual convention and meeting, the decision was made to hire George Strayer, a 29-year-old soybean farmer, seedsman and ASA director from Hudson, Iowa, as executive secretary. He was the first paid employee of ASA.

  • 1940 – First issue of Soybean Digest is published

    This is the first issue of ASA’s new magazine, Soybean Digest, published in November 1940.

    The American Soybean Association began publishing a monthly magazine in November 1940, called the Soybean Digest. In addition to publishing the proceedings of ASA’s annual convention and meeting, the magazine was to disseminate information and developments for the growing, marketing, handling processing and sale of soybeans. The first issue of the magazine was 16 pages.

  • 1946 – New York Stock Exchange begins trading in refined soybean oil

    At the top of the photo you can see the boards for crude soybean oil for New York and the Chicago Board of Trade.

    Citing the tremendous growth in U.S. soybean production since the mid-1930s, the New York Stock Exchange announced the inauguration of trading in refined soybean oil, effective November 25, 1946.

  • 1947 – First issue of Soybean Blue Book is published.

    The cover of the first issue of ASA’s annual publication, Soybean Blue Book.

    In 1947, ASA created and published the first edition of the Soybean Blue Book, to be an annual yearbook and directory for the industry. This new publication was part of ASA’s commitment to provide information covering all areas of the soybean industry. The publication was later renamed Soya Bluebook.

  • 1948 – ASA launches program for voluntary investment from soybean sales

    ASA launches program for voluntary investment from soybean sales

    Recognizing that financing ASA only through membership dues would never be adequate to support the broad scope of important activities the association needed to perform, ASA leaders launched a voluntary nationwide investment program in 1948. Growers were asked to voluntarily invest one-fifth of a cent per bushel from the sale of their 1948 soybean crop. Elevators were asked to sign an agreement with ASA to collect the money at the time of purchase and then send it to ASA.

  • 1956 – ASA opens its first international office in Japan

    Staff of the Japanese American Soybean Institute in July 1957. Left to right: Hidekidu Sato, translator; Toshi Yonemura, interpreter and nutrition specialist; Shizuka Hayashi, managing director; Yoshiko Kojima, research and promotion specialist; and Yoko Takahashi, secretary

    In February 1956, the first joint market development contract was signed between the American Soybean Association and the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This designated ASA as the official cooperator involving the use of Food for Peace (PL 480) funds for market promotion activities in Japan and Western Germany.

    Then, in May 1956, with cooperator funds from FAS for multiple activities in Japan, the ASA Board of Directors established an office in Tokyo, Japan. This was ASA’s first international office. It was called the “Japanese American Soybean Institute” and involved a cooperative agreement for market development with five Japanese manufacturing and distribution associations.

  • 1962 – Minnesota is first to organize a state soybean association

    Pictured are the first officers of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association. Back row, left to right: Charles Simpson, Leslie Wright, Robert Friedericks and Bert Enestvedt. Front row, John Evans and Henry Leitschuh. (Not pictured: Parker Sanders).

    The Minnesota Soybean Growers Association was founded in December 1962, making it the first state soybean association to form, and the first to apply for affiliation with the American Soybean Association. It was approved for affiliation with ASA in 1963.

  • 1966 – ASA receives “Billion Dollar Export” Award

    U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Orville Freeman presents “Billion Dollar” export awards to the American Soybean Association and Soybean Council of America in 1966. In the photo from the left are Secretary Freeman; George Strayer, ASA executive vice president, Laurel Meade, ASA president; Glen Pogeler, Soybean Council of America president; and Ray Fiedler and A. H. Becker, Soybean Council of America.

    The American Soybean Association and Soybean Council of America were presented with the “Billion Dollar Export” awards by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Orville Freeman on October 3, 1966. ASA was also recognized for its 10 years of international market development work for soybeans.

  • 1968 – The first time more than half of U.S. soybean crop is exported

    This farm photo is during harvest in 1964. Photo: Illinois Soybean Association

    In 1969, ASA reported that more than half of the U.S. soybean crop for the 1968 marketing year was exported as whole soybeans or soybean meal. This was a first for the U.S. soybean industry.

  • 1978 – ASA office moves from Iowa to Missouri

    From 1978, this is a picture of ASA’s new world headquarters at 777 Craig Road in St. Louis, Missouri.

    In 1978, after having its office in the small town of Hudson, Iowa for nearly 40 years, the American Soybean Association moved to a “world headquarters” in St. Louis, Missouri. From there, ASA staff coordinated all the association’s domestic and foreign operations.

  • 1989 – ASA begins work to achieve a national soybean checkoff

    This shows minutes of the special meeting of the ASA Voting Delegates when a resolution was approved to pursue a national soybean checkoff.

    A special meeting of the ASA Voting Delegates was held on March 3, 1989 in St. Louis, Mo., to discuss a resolution to work toward a national Soybean Promotion and Research Checkoff (SPARC). The resolution was approved to pursue legislation authorizing a farmer-controlled national soybean checkoff. The national checkoff would designate that one-half of one percent on the sale of every bushel of soybeans go toward market promotion, research and industry education. After the vote of support for the resolution, ASA and state soybean association leaders started a focused campaign to get legislative approval for a national checkoff.

  • 1991 – National checkoff assessments and collection begin

    Our Soybean Checkoff

    Checkoff assessments to fund promotion, research and education began on September 1, 1991, after having been authorized as part of the 1990 farm bill. One-half of one percent of the market price per bushel of soybeans sold would be collected at the point of sale. Half of the proceeds would go to state soybean checkoffs where soybeans were sold and half to the national checkoff. A new farmer-led entity, the United Soybean Board, created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, would oversee investment of national checkoff dollars.

  • 1996 – ASA and NCGA present the first Commodity Classic

    This is the poster art for the first Commodity Classic convention and trade show in 1996.

    In 1996, the American Soybean Association and National Corn Growers Association partnered to host the first ever Commodity Classic, a conference and trade show for soybean and corn farmers. From that time on, Commodity Classic would take the place of ASA’s annual SOYBEAN EXPO.

  • 2000 – China becomes the largest single-country purchaser of U.S. soybeans

    2000 – China becomes the largest single-country purchaser of U.S. soybeans

    By the 2000 marketing year, when China became the largest single-country purchaser of U.S. soybeans, ASA had been building and promoting a market for U.S. soybeans in China for nearly 20 years. That marketing year, China imported 191 million bushels of U.S. soybeans equaling almost 20 percent of total U.S. soybeans produced.

  • 2000 – World Initiative for Soy in Human Health is founded

    This is the board of the World Initiative for Soy in Human Health in 2010.

    The World Initiative for Soy in Human Health, known as WISHH, was founded by visionary soybean growers from 10 state soybean boards. The program was to be operated by the American Soybean Association. The WISHH mission was to increase the use of U.S. soy products in developing countries where rapidly growing populations of all income levels could benefit from soy in their diets.

  • 2004 – First biodiesel tax incentive passes

    Biodiesel production in the United States spiked dramatically the year following the 2004 passage of the first biodiesel tax incentive.

    It was a landmark victory for ASA and the National Biodiesel Board when legislation creating the first biodiesel tax incentive was passed by Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush in October 2004. Thousands of ASA members and industry leaders worked to get the legislation passed. It provided a two-year incentive, structured as a federal excise tax credit amounting to a penny per percentage point of biodiesel blended with petroleum diesel.

  • 2005 – U.S. Soybean Export Council is formed

    2005 – U.S. Soybean Export Council is formed

    In 2005, following nearly 50 years of successful U.S. soybean export activities by the American Soybean Association, the farmer leaders of the American Soybean Association and the United Soybean Board decided to form the U.S. Soybean Export Council to implement international marketing activities going forward.

  • 2011 – Value of U.S. soybean exports reach a record $26 billion

    Harvesting soybeans on a good weather day.

    The American Soybean Association’s longstanding work and support for international marketing continued to pay off as an all-time high record was reached in the 2011 marketing year when U.S. soy exports reach $26 billion. That included soybeans, soy meal and soy oil.

  • 2020 – ASA observes its 100th Anniversary

    ASA's 100th Anniversary logo

    On September 3, 2020, the American Soybean Association officially becomes 100 years old. During those ten decades, ASA helped build the U.S. soybean industry into the prominent agricultural industry that it is today. Now, 100 years after its founding, ASA stands as the premier policy and advocacy organization for the U.S. soybean industry.

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