WASHINGTON, D.C. -- More soybeans are being grown in Maryland, Michigan and New York, and New Jersey's soybean acreage is slowly disappearing. While at first glance that may not seem very important to Southern soybean growers, these acreage shifts are affecting the make-up of the United Soybean Board.

Due to increased soybean production, Maryland, Michigan and New York will each gain a member on the United Soybean Board, and New Jersey will lose its board member.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the changes Oct. 3, and says it will increase membership on the United Soybean Board from 62 to 64 members. The increase is due to changes in soybean production levels since the last board reapportionment, which occurred in 2000. USDA reviews each state's volume of production every three years and adjusts membership on the board accordingly.

In addition, New York will no longer be part of the commodity group's Eastern Region unit because it has sufficient soybean production to qualify for a representative on the board independently. Therefore, New York will become a separate unit and have one board member representative.

New Jersey will lose one member. In addition, New Jersey, which no longer has sufficient soybean production to qualify for a representative on the board independently, will be merged with the Eastern Region unit. These changes will be effective with the nominations for the 2004 appointments.

The increase is based on requirements of the Soybean Promotion and Research Order, authorized by the Soybean Promotion, Research, and Consumer Information Act. The order provides that at the end of each three-year period, the board review soybean production levels in geographic units throughout the United States and that USDA review the volume of production of each unit. Board membership then must be reapportioned accordingly.