Derek Potter is a great believer in giving back to the agricultural industry that supports him and his family.
“I like to serve on boards because you hope you can have an impact and be forward thinking,” the Grantsboro, N.C. farmer says.
Since December, Potter has served as director of the United Soybean Board that oversees the soy checkoff to maximize profit opportunities for U.S. soybean farmers. Potter was appointed to the board by then Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
Potter says serving on the United Soybean Board is a great way to help build a better U.S. soybean industry, but it is also a great networking opportunity, allowing him to learn from other top farmers across the country. “You can network with guys that are really pushing the envelope. Networking has helped me as much as anything,” he explains.
Potter is one of 73 farmer-directors of the United Soybean Board. “We manage the spending of the checkoff dollars to make sure soybean farmers receive a maximum return on their investment,” he says.
Potter says it is an interesting time to serve on the United Soybean Board because it is going through a major transformation now. “USB is changing the metrics for how projects are funded, changing the structure of the staff, and the CEO will be retiring at the end of the year so I joined in a very busy time,” he says.
Potter acknowledges that serving on the board takes time away from his farm, but he says it’s worth it. Fortunately, the meetings are scheduled during the less busy times on the farm.
“It’s tough to be away, but I enjoy making a contribution to the soybean industry,” he says.
Potter is also active in Farm Bureau and the North Carolina Soybean Producers Association. In addition, he is one of 12 directors for AgCarolina Farm Credit in eastern North Carolina.
“Serving on the local farm credit board is helpful because I get to see the credit side of things. AgCarolina is there to help keep farmers farming. These are certainly more challenging times with $4 versus $8 corn and lower margins for sweet potatoes, tobacco and other commodities, but AgCarolina is in excellent financial shape to help North Carolina farmers,” he says.