Soybean checkoff going strong

It was a busy year for the soybean checkoff. Whether helping to increase demand for soy biodiesel, promoting U.S. soy abroad or supporting the livestock and poultry industries, the farmer-leaders of the soybean checkoff have been working to increase the competitiveness and success of U.S. soybean farmers.

The checkoff continues to fund the development and usage of biodiesel, which is expected to add $24 billion to the U.S. economy between 2005 and 2015, assuming biodiesel growth reaches 650 million gallons of annual production by 2015.

Biodiesel production will create a projected 39,102 new jobs in all sectors of the economy. The soybean checkoff has worked with the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) to promote the growth of soy biodiesel.

The checkoff continues to promote U.S. soy overseas. Last year over 1.2 billion bushels of U.S. soybeans were exported. Exports to China have nearly doubled since 2000, from over 197 million bushels to over 350 million bushels in marketing year 2005/2006.

Supporting your customer is just good business, and the soybean checkoff has been busy supporting the poultry and livestock industries, the number one customer for soybean meal. The soybean checkoff provides funds for states to use in communication, outreach and grassroots campaigns, and has recently provided soybean farmers with new tools to support animal agriculture. A new Web site, and a new toolkit provide soybean farmers with economic, environmental, animal welfare and animal science information designed to support the livestock and poultry industries.

In fiscal year 2006, the soybean checkoff invested nearly $6.5 million in production research, with soybean rust research as a top priority. Rust screening research has already led to the identification of two genes with some resistance to rust. In addition, the checkoff has helped to monitor the spread of rust by working with USDA to fund sentinel plots.

The soybean checkoff has also promoted new uses of soybeans. In fiscal year 2006, 21 new industrial products featuring soy were introduced into the marketplace. In addition, 27 new items were proposed to receive Federal purchasing preference for being soy-based. Ford has also been working extensively on developing soy-based polyurethane seats for its cars and trucks.

“It was a great year for the soybean checkoff and the farmer-leaders of the checkoff will continue working to ensure next year is even better for soybean farmers,” says Curt Raasch, United Soybean Board (USB) chairman and a soybean farmer from Odebolt, Iowa.

“The farmer-leaders of the checkoff will continue to promote biodiesel, international markets, animal agriculture, production research, new uses and other areas of importance for soybean farmers.”

USB is made up of 64 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 Customer Information Act, USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff.

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