Passion for Soy Industry Runs Deep: Remembering ‘No-Till Tom’

Tom Oswald observes old corn stubble in an open field.

The soy checkoff is filled with dedicated farmer-leaders who strive for success, with U.S. soybean farmers as their No. 1 priority. Each director and staff member plays an integral role for the soy checkoff and all 515,000 U.S. soybean farmers.

One farmer-leader who was a true testament to improving the lives of soybean farmers and the industry was Iowa soybean farmer Tom Oswald. Serving eight years on USB’s board of directors, Oswald was a powerful advocate for soybean farmers and the soybean industry. He always sought to make the industry better, encouraging all to be resilient as change is constant. He often asked the question, “How do we make it better-er?” — meaning the extra steps, thoughts and efforts put forward to go beyond expectation and provide a superior outcome.

Serving on United Soybean Board’s Executive Committee and Chair of the Audit & Evaluation Committee, he was a steadfast champion of the soy checkoff. He was always analytical and introspective about checkoff investments, often challenging his fellow board members to think strategically in bringing value back to the farm.

“I appreciated Tom’s dedication to ag and soybean farmers, but as Chair, I really appreciated his willingness to share his thoughts and speak freely at our Executive Committee and board meetings. He will be greatly missed for his friendship and his unwavering interest in promoting soybeans for all soybean farmers,” said Ralph Lott, USB Past Chair and New York soybean farmer.

Oswald made the world a brighter and better-er place, regardless of where he went or who he met. He knew no stranger, and his light was constantly shining on others.

“His kindness and thoughtfulness were ever present in meetings, at dinners or just talking about his love of music and travel. He was a humble leader, always making sure opinions and voices were heard. Never afraid to disagree, but always considerate, respectful and kind to those working with him,” said Meagan Kaiser, USB Chair.

Oswald was knee-deep in agriculture, with roots firmly planted in helping others succeed. He was known for providing knowledge and words of wisdom to others, as well as some comedic relief. He left a lasting impression on others within the soy checkoff, other farmers and the soy industry.

“Tom was passionate about the soy community and ag industry,” said Lott. “He listened, thought and communicated in a profound way to promote best practices and always genuinely encouraged others to do so. His discussion will be missed by many — myself included.”

Inspired by Oswald’s passion and strides for progress within the soybean industry — and in tribute to his memory — the soy checkoff has established an annual award to honor an individual, organization or group that has left a lasting mark on the soybean industry and/or the soy checkoff. The Tom Oswald Legacy Award will be awarded to someone who exemplifies Oswald’s character and represents the legacy he made, making the industry “better-er” than before.

Nominations for this award are now open and will close Jan. 10, 2023. If there is an organization, group or individual that you believe should be recognized for their efforts and passion for the soybean industry, visit our website to submit your nomination.

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