A University of Missouri professor was one of 13 winners of the Meritorious Service Award presented by the United Soybean Board at the 2003 Commodity Classic in Charlotte, N.C.

James Allen Wrather, professor of plant microbiology and pathology at the University of Missouri-Columbia, was recognized for his education efforts related to the soybean cyst nematode.

Wrather has focused his research and Extension efforts to prevent U.S. soybean farmer yield losses to disease, compiling disease-loss estimates for major diseases in each soybean-producing state.

His disease loss estimate publication has established priorities to reduce disease losses through state research and Extension programs in both the public and private sectors, and is among the most cited scientific journals in the United States.

Wrather's career has also led to teamwork among states in Extension education to reduce losses attributed to the soybean cyst nematode. In addition, his efforts to educate growers about the soybean cyst nematode management is credited with helping to lower damage by 66 percent in the southern United States over the past 20 years.

In addition to Wrather, the United Soybean Board also recognized individuals and organizations in the categories of International Marketing, Domestic Marketing, Production, New Uses and Producer Communications. Among those honored was Steven T. Sonka, director of the National Soybean Research Laboratory in Urbana, Ill. Sonka was recognized for his continual leadership that led to improved coordination of research and information-sharing within the soybean industry, including the first-ever Global Soy Forum.

“Each winner has made a direct, positive impact on the soybean industry and U.S. soybean producers,” said USB Chairman David Durham, a soybean farmer from Hardin, Mo.