ISA Supports Legislation, Forms Iowa Biodiesel Board

Iowa Soybean Association says proposed bills it is pushing for are still alive in state Legislature.

The first legislative "funnel" occurred on Friday of last week. The March 9 "funnel" is a deadline for legislators at the Iowa statehouse in Des Moines to pass policy bills out of one committee. If a bill did not pass out of a committee by March 9, the bill is "dead" and cannot be considered.

"The primary bills of interest to the Iowa Soybean Association passed their assigned committees in the Iowa Legislature and survived the funnel," says Matt Caswell, ISA public affairs director. Priorities of ISA that are still "alive" include:

• Increased funding of agricultural research at ISU
• Biodiesel testing laboratory to ensure quality
• Increased funding of ISA agronomic and environmental funding
• Increased incentives for the alternative uses of soybean oil
• Tax breaks for biodiesel facilities
• Making permanent higher weight limits during harvest

Iowa Biodiesel Board formed by ISA

The Iowa Soybean Association last week announced the hiring of Randy Olson. He'll serve as a senior marketing manager for ISA and be the liaison between ISA and the biodiesel manufacturing industry in Iowa.

"I'm very excited to join ISA and support our state's farmers," says Olson. "I'm looking forward to the opportunity to work with our growing number of biodiesel manufacturers in the state. With this industry's tremendous growth, it is vital that our producers get the support that they need."

As senior marketing manager, Olson will work with the director of market development to increase demand of Iowa soybeans by meeting the needs of customers. He will help develop and coordinate projects, budgets and market development initiatives for biodiesel, biobased products, livestock initiatives and the Soybean Meal Information Center program. Olson will also work as the executive director of the new Iowa Biodiesel Board.

What will Iowa Biodiesel Board do?

The IBB will serve as the biodiesel industry's central coordinating entity in Iowa in cooperation with the National Biodiesel Board and will be the voice for this growing industry. IBB's mission will be to advance the interests of its members by creating sustainable biodiesel industry growth. Key areas of focus will be quality assurance programs and increased awareness of biodiesel.

Olson is a native Iowan and has extensive experience in the chemical and financial services industries.

ISA starts Soy Transportation Coalition

The Iowa Soybean Association also announced last week that it has hired Mike Steenhoek. Steenhoek will be executive director for the Soy Transportation Coalition, a new initiative launched by ISA and several other state and national soybean organizations.

"I am appreciative and excited to have the opportunity to work on behalf of Iowa soybean producers and the broader soybean community in this new initiative," says Steenhoek. "The Iowa Soybean Association, along with a number of other state soybean organizations, have demonstrated true leadership and a commitment to soybean farmers in establishing this coalition."

The Soy Transportation Coalition will work to improve the competitiveness of rail transportation conditions in the United States on behalf of soybean growers, he says. Steenhoek's responsibilities will be broad, including communicating this new initiative to soybean growers, assisting in the development of the general strategy, establishing alliances with other industries and working to improve the level and quality of service for the soybean industry.

ISA hires veteran from Grassley staff

Before coming to ISA, Steenhoek worked for Sen. Charles Grassley for eight years, says ISA chief executive Kirk Leeds. Steenhoek worked the first four years in Washington, D.C., where he served as the Senator's scheduler and speechwriter. In late 2002, Steenhoek accepted the position of director of economic development in Senator Grassley's Des Moines office.

Duties included organizing and hosting the Senator's biennial Ambassadors Tour and other trade delegations to Iowa to promote the state's economy and trade relationships. He also assisted Iowa communities in requests for federal funding and organized Sen. Grassley's biennial Women's Conference.

The Iowa Soybean Association develops policies and programs that help farmers expand profit opportunities while promoting environmentally sensitive production using the soybean checkoff and other resources. ISA is governed by an elected board of 21 farmers who decide how to spend the checkoff money.

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