According to USDA's Prospective Plantings report, U.S. farmers will plant 76.6-million acres of soybeans this spring which would be the third-largest planted area on record. But overall - USDA expects soybean acreage to drop by one-percent.
Jason Bean Chair of the United Soybean Board's Production Research program and a Missouri soybean farmer says soybean checkoff research and demand-building projects have done a good job of keeping U.S. soybeans a profitable option for U.S. farmers:
“We’ve done a good job particularly in the production committee to increase yields for farmers so that we’re improving their profitability.”
Bean notes that researchers funded with soybean checkoff dollars have made a priority of developing new varieties more tolerant to drought and excessive moisture. Researchers want to maintain strong yields even when soybean plants experience such stress, which occurs in some parts of the country seemingly every year.
For the past two years - U.S. soybean farmers have harvested record or near-record soybean crops. Through work to increase demand for U.S. soy abroad - the checkoff helped U.S. soybean farmers post record-high exports for a fourth straight year in 2010. Bean says U.S. soy meets international buyers' demands for high quality:
“Any time we can increase demand, we increase price. It’s just supply and demand. And I think we’ve seen a huge increase in demand from China, and I think that’s wonderful, we’re seeing how competitive our US soybeans are, and that we’ve got good quality. And once again checkoff money has provided research to ensure a really good quality, and that’s why we have a desirable product.”
Domestically, the checkoff works to maintain demand among U.S. poultry and livestock farmers -- the U.S. soybean industry's best customers for U.S. soybean meal.
For soybean oil, the biggest use continues to be in the food industry. Bean is especially proud of the research in soybeans that produce high-oleic soybean oil. This enhanced-trait variety meets food manufacturers' needs for a stable oil as well as consumer demands for a healthy oil used in foods:
“And that’s a very desirable soybean, we’ve put a lot of work and put a lot of money into research to develop that soybean and therefore it’s increased demand.”
Soybeans that produce high-oleic oil make the oil even healthier than it already is and could help increase the market for U.S. soybean oil.
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