The United Soybean Board announced winners of its Outstanding Achievement Award and Excellence Award at the recent Commodity Classic in Nashville, Tenn. Through the awards USB recognizes the commitment of individuals and companies who have made an outstanding, positive impact on the soybean industry.
The checkoff’s highest honor, the USB Outstanding Achievement Award, was awarded to Richard Wilson, retired national program leader for oilseeds and bioscience research at the United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
Wilson has made valuable contributions to the soybean industry during his distinguished 32-year career with USDA. As national program leader, he led more than 400 scientists in nearly 300 projects in crop genetics, molecular biology and agricultural product utilization.
Prior to that position, Wilson served as the research leader for the USDA-ARS Soybean and Nitrogen Fixation Research Unit, guiding the focus of soybean research on quality traits.
“I am deeply honored to receive the USB Outstanding Achievement Award and am very proud to be selected as an example of how checkoff investments are helping improve soybean quality and enhance the competitive position of U.S. soybeans in global markets,” said Wilson.
Wilson’s accomplishments are evidenced in part by more than 225 scientific publications, including 11 books. Even after his retirement, Wilson actively coordinates soybean research initiatives and continues to author scientific articles.
“USB farmer-leaders selected Wilson because he has made major contributions to soybean research in his tenure,” said Rick Stern, USB production chair and farmer from Cream Ridge, N.J. “Dr. Wilson was the principal investigator for two large checkoff-funded projects before he took on his role with the oilseeds program, and he’s been a supporter of checkoff research for many years.”
USB’s Excellence Award, focused on production research, was awarded to Randy Shoemaker of USDA-ARS. Shoemaker’s contributions in genomics research have been important for soybean farmers. In his role as a research geneticist with USDA-ARS, Shoemaker has helped lead the way in mapping the soybean genome, which will aid efforts to bring disease and pest resistance and improved soybean composition traits to the market.
Shoemaker’s research, funded in part by the soybean checkoff, helped establish a genomics database that is widely used by both public and private researchers. Through his leadership of the Soybean Genomics Executive Committee, Shoemaker has been instrumental in guiding the strategic plans of the group and in the development of projects that have sped up the research on soybean genomics and streamlined the work being conducted across the country.
“Dr. Shoemaker stands out as a leader in the field of soybean genomics,” said Stern. “He helped establish a genomics strategic plan and guided the direction of genomics research, research that will help farmers far into the future.”
USB is made up of 68 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. Checkoff funds are invested in the areas of animal utilization, human utilization, industrial utilization, industry relations, market access and supply.