U.S. soybean farmers to see checkoff in action
Did you know one of the largest livestock operations in Mexico, PROAN, feeds 100 percent U.S. soybean meal to its 18 million hens, 6,000 dairy cattle and more than 20,000 sows each year? And 10 soybean farmers get to tour this state-of-the-art facility annually, thanks to the soybean checkoff.
This is just one of the stops on the agenda of U.S. soybean farmers participating in the United Soybean Board's and soybean checkoff's See for Yourself program. Now other soybean farmers have the same opportunity to see checkoff-funded programs in action--for free--as this year's See for Yourself session opens for applications.
"The program allows farmer-participants to see their checkoff dollars at work and meet their end users," says checkoff farmer-leader Rick Stern, a soybean farmer from Cream Ridge, N.J. "It is an eye-opening experience for farmers to see the various ways their soybeans are being used both domestically and abroad."
USB is inviting any soybean farmer interested in learning about checkoff programs in the U.S. and Mexico to apply to participate in the fourth year of SFY, which will run July 25 to 30. Participants will do everything from learning about biodiesel uses in St. Louis, where the USB is based, to touring one of the largest animal operations in Mexico, the second-largest international customer for U.S. soybeans. Among the many other things they will see and do over the jam-packed week are the following:
--Discover the new and innovative ways soy is being used by the industrial sector;
--Watch demonstrations of maintenance vehicles using biodiesel;
--Tour livestock facilities that use U.S. soybean meal as their primary feed source;
--Walk though an aquaculture farm that uses U.S. soybean meal as its primary protein source;
--Learn about Mexico's thriving aquaculture sector and U.S. soy's role;
--Sample vast variety of soyfoods from Mexican retail markets; and
--Explore a soybean and palm oil refinery that utilizes the latest industry technology.
"Participating in SFY is a great way to learn about the many ways our checkoff continues to provide a return on our investment," says Stern, who also chairs USB's Audit & Evaluation program, which sponsors SFY. "It allows us to see that our real customers are beyond the elevator and to witness how those customers use our soybeans." Another important aspect of the program is the opportunity for participants to spend time with their USB farmer-leaders--many of whom will be participating as well--to let them know what they think about what they're seeing.
"It's one more way USB can audit and evaluate the value of farmers' checkoff investments," Stern says.
Participants need no particular knowledge or experience with USB or the checkoff to qualify, just a desire to learn. Click here to submit your application. Applications must be received by April 1, 2011.
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.
For more information on the United Soybean Board, visit us at www.unitedsoybean.org.