A recent immersion course provided soybean farmers, several from the Southeast, the chance to see and evaluate the results of the soybean checkoff efforts to promote soybeans abroad.
United Soybean Board member Annie Dee of Pickens County, Ala., helped the group host its See For Yourself program July 30-Aug. 7. Dee traveled to St. Louis, China and Vietnam with 10 non-USB farmer-participants and two media members. She said the experience was invaluable.
“I feel good progress was made, and we have opened doors for improved future trade, particularly Vietnam,” she said. “Doing business with China and Vietnam is about relationships—they will not do business without first having a relationship.”
The See For Yourself program allows U.S. farmers to learn about their customers; the soy checkoff’s role in marketing; and domestic and international research to improve U.S. soy.
Sponsored by USB’s Audit and Evaluation (A&E) Committee, the program began at USB’s St. Louis headquarters. Participants learned more about the soy checkoff and domestic soybean uses. A tour of DuPont’s Nutrition & Health Facility demonstrated how soy is incorporated into a growing number of food products.
Participants next traveled to China, which uses roughly 25 percent of all U.S. soy. The group visited an aquaculture facility and the Shanghai Xinnong Feed Mill, which uses soybean meal to produce swine feed.
The program’s final destination was Vietnam, an emerging market for U.S. soy. Participants toured the Cai Mep Agricultural Port, which handles approximately 50 percent of the country’s soybean meal imports.
“This year’s program was especially unique because our participants were able to see a well-established market in China, and a market that the checkoff is working to develop in Vietnam,” said Keith Tapp, Kentucky soybean farmer and A&E Committee chairman. “In all of our locations, I think the participants saw a wide range of activities demonstrating how the checkoff works for them and all U.S. soybean farmers.”