As the holiday season comes upon us, we are reminded of those less fortunate than ourselves.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, more than 1 billion people go hungry every day, and with the United Nations (UN) predicting the population to top 9 billion by 2050 this number will surely increase. The UN also claims the growing global population means that agricultural production may need to increase by 70 percent using the same amount of land and water.
The United Soybean Board (USB) and soybean checkoff provides U.S. soybean farmers with tools and support to help them in their desire to help feed this growing population. An impressive 82 percent of U.S. soybean farmers polled in a recent soybean checkoff-funded survey said they felt a responsibility to feed the global population.
“It’s encouraging, but not surprising, to see the number of U.S. soybean farmers who know it is part of their mission to feed the world,” says Chuck Myers, a soybean farmer from Lyons, Neb., and past USB chairman. “The soybean checkoff will do its part to provide tools to help U.S. soybean farmers with this.”
One example of this support that USB provides to the increase food production is through production research. In 2009, soybean checkoff-funded research helped to map the soybean genome. This milestone will help researchers expedite the development and release of new soybean varieties. USB also established standards in seed varieties that claim soybean cyst nematode resistance to ensure U.S. soybean farmers receive the best tools to protect their yields from this pest. In addition, soybean checkoff funds assisted in the development of drought-tolerant soybeans. This new line of soybeans will allow farmers to produce food with less water. All of these achievements could lead to increased soybean production to aid in feeding the global population.
“These advancements in research are important in increasing U.S. soybean production to meet global demand,” adds Myers. “This coming challenge will present a great opportunity for U.S. soybean farmers.”
The soybean checkoff’s Biotechnology Initiative also plays a role in giving U.S. soybean farmers the tools they need to feed the growing population. This initiative works to improve market access for U.S. biotech soybeans and to educate about the importance biotech crops will have in feeding the world. Through partnerships with organizations such as the World Food Prize, USB continues to spread this message about the safety and potential of biotechnology.
“U.S. soybean farmers have an important responsibility in producing safe, reliable food supply for our growing population,” says Myers. “The soybean checkoff will support these efforts through issues such as research, market access and creating demand and preference for U.S. soy.”
USB is made up of 68 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.