Soy farmers identify game changers for industry future
After a day and a half of discussion, U.S. soybean farmers and other representatives of the U.S. soy industry agreed that continuing to promote the benefits of biotechnology, maximizing the content of soy meal and oil, rapidly adopting high oleic soybean varieties and preserving the Renewable Fuel Standard are top priorities to lead the industry into the future.
"The soy checkoff's priority is to continue to create opportunities for all U.S. soybean farmers, as well as their customers, to succeed," says United Soybean Board Chairman Jim Stillman, a soybean farmer from Emmetsburg, Iowa. Stillman helped lead the CONNECTIONS conference, which in December brought representatives of the U.S. soy industry together to discuss the top issues and opportunities facing U.S. soybean farmers.
"To do this, we must challenge ourselves as farmers, and all soy industry representatives, to stay ahead of changing global demands," Stillman says. "The game changers and strategies identified at CONNECTIONS play a major role in ensuring we meet this goal."
Nearly 400 CONNECTIONS attendees participated in sessions related to the checkoff's four strategic objectives and ranked the strategies most likely to positively impact U.S. soybean farmers. The soy checkoff will join others in the industry in using the identified priorities to inform their direction in the future. Top priorities for each of USB's strategic objectives included:
--Customer focus: Participants prioritized preserving the Renewable Fuel Standard and promoting biodiesel and Bioheat. The promotion of biotechnology and the increased focus on improving U.S. soy's advantages were also identified as priorities.
--Meal: Participants identified top priorities to be maximizing the content of meal and oil in soybeans through integration of research, breeding and processing. Emphasis was also put on developing a transparent system that rewards farmers for higher quality and supporting U.S. soy meal products to boost animal use of soy meal.
--Oil: Participants prioritized protecting and growing the RFS2 as well as strengthening it as a price driver for soy oil to make soy meal more cost-competitive for animal farmers as top priorities. Additional priorities included rapid adoption of high-oleic soybean varieties and improving soy composition and yield.
--Freedom to operate: Priorities to ensure farmers' freedom to operate included engaging consumers, food companies and farmers in conversations to educate about today's agriculture. This includes partnering with organizations such as U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance and CommonGround on checkoff-funded projects when educating consumers on the topic of biotechnology. Farmers also identified the need to increase funding for transportation improvements as a top priority.
The 69 farmer-directors of USB oversee the investments of the soy checkoff to maximize profit opportunities for all U.S. soybean farmers. These volunteers invest and leverage checkoff funds to increase the value of U.S. soy meal and oil, to ensure U.S. soybean farmers and their customers have the freedom and infrastructure to operate, and to meet the needs of U.S. soy's customers. As stipulated in the federal Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soy checkoff.
For more information on the United Soybean Board, visit www.unitedsoybean.org.