U.S. farmers have taken notice of the growth in global demand for U.S. soybeans maintained in part by the United Soybean Board (USB) and the soybean checkoff. According to the 2011 Prospective Plantings report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. farmers will plant 76.6 million acres of soybeans this year. USDA estimates this year’s soybean crop may be 1 percent lower than last year. But if the numbers hold, the 2011 soybean crop could be the third-largest planted area on record.
“The checkoff has done a good job of keeping U.S. soybeans competitive in the market,” says Jason Bean, soybean farmer from Holcomb, Mo., and chair of the USB production research program. “Checkoff dollars have provided research to ensure a good-quality U.S. soybean. If we have a desirable product, we’ll be able to sustain and increase our demand.”
Through work to increase market access and maintain demand for U.S. soy abroad, the checkoff helped U.S. soybean farmers post record-high exports for a fourth straight year last year. Domestically, the checkoff focuses on maintaining and creating demand by supporting U.S animal agriculture as well as funding production research to protect and increase U.S. soybean yields and research on new uses for soybeans.
“The checkoff’s production research program has done a good job supporting research to increase yields for U.S. farmers so that we’re improving their opportunity for profit growing soybeans,” adds Bean. “Another thing we’ve worked on with production research is high-oleic soybeans. That’s a very desirable soybean, and we’ve done a lot of work and put a lot of money into research to develop that soybean.”
High-oleic soybeans produce soybean oil with traits that are more desirable to both the food industry and consumers. With lower saturated fats and no trans fats in the oil they produce, high-oleic varieties could help soybean oil win back the market share it has lost to other vegetable oils. To help increase acreage, U.S. soybean farmers can anticipate incentives to plant high-oleic soybeans.
USDA’s final 2010 estimates concluded that U.S. farmers planted 77.4 million acres of soybeans last year and harvested 76.6 million acres. Average yield per bushel in 2010 decreased slightly from 2009, with 2010 bringing in 43.5 bushels per acre.
USB is made up of 69 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. Checkoff funds are invested in the areas of animal utilization, human utilization, industrial utilization, industry relations, market access and supply. As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff.