The United Soybean Board presented the inaugural Tom Oswald Legacy Award to Kenneth Bader, Ph.D., during the 2023 Commodity Classic in Orlando, Florida, recognizing Bader for his commitment and steadfast efforts to advance the soybean industry.
Bader’s efforts consisted of promoting the agricultural industry throughout his career, most notably through his work that led to the creation of the United Soybean Board. He was instrumental in creating a national soybean checkoff because he acknowledged and understood the positive impact a national program would have on soybean farmers across the United States. His vision, political savvy and perseverance led to passage of the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act as a legislative component in the 1990 farm bill.
“I am humbled and honored to receive this award and am grateful to the farmer volunteers, staff and partners who continue to work on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers,” said Bader. “I have immense respect for Tom Oswald, who dedicated his career to agriculture and was a strong advocate for our industry. Looking back on 30 years since the inception of the soy checkoff, biodiesel, sustainability and exports serve as bright spots for checkoff investments.”
Bader received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees from The Ohio State University. He later served as a professor and dean of students at The Ohio State University and vice chancellor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is most well-known for his 16 years as CEO of the American Soybean Association from 1976-1992.
Bader has also been recognized with multiple honors and accolades throughout his career, such as St. Louis AgriBusiness Club’s Agribusiness Leader of the Year, National Agri-Marketer of the Year, American Agricultural Editors Association’s National Agricultural Leader of the Year, Sigma Xi and Alpha Zeta’s National Agri-Marketer of the Year, and was recognized as Marquis’ Who’s Who of Association Executives.
The soy checkoff introduced the Tom Oswald Legacy Award in honor of the late Tom Oswald, who passed away in 2022. Oswald’s dedication to agriculture was evident through numerous awards, titles and organizations he was involved in, especially the soybean industry. Oswald served as a farmer-leader for eight years, and it was apparent that he had a true passion for soybean farmers and the soybean industry. While in meetings or through discussion with others, he always posed the question of “How do we make it better-er?” — meaning what extra steps, thoughts and efforts we could take to go beyond expectations and provide the best possible outcome. Oswald continued to push the needle for progress within the industry.
Ensuring Oswald’s legacy lived on due to the tremendous impact he left on the industry and other soybean farmers, the checkoff established this award in his name to recognize those who are working toward making the industry “better-er” than ever before.
Bader is described by others who nominated him as “a driving force to get the national checkoff we have today,” exemplifying “tremendous leadership and guidance” in all roles, and “without Ken’s leadership, the national soybean checkoff may never have been created.” U.S. soybean farmers are now reaping the benefits of Bader’s vision and effort.
“Dr. Bader’s contributions to the checkoff and U.S. soybean industry are monumental. He exemplifies Tom’s legacy, and we all see the results of his relentless dedication and leadership to move research and promotion investments forward,” said Meagan Kaiser, USB Chair from Missouri. “Dr. Bader left the soybean industry ‘better-er.’ We are stronger because of his work.”
Bader has shown significant dedication and commitment to the soybean industry. His passion for this industry is evident, and we are excited to honor him for his efforts. No doubt, he has helped make this industry “better-er” than before. Those who nominated Bader mentioned the U.S. soybean industry would not be the same today without the service of Ken Bader as CEO of ASA, and we can all see firsthand the soybean industry’s explosive growth and success that has occurred because of the national checkoff and the key role Bader had in its initial creation.