This week, the United Soybean Board’s (USB) 78 farmer-leaders approved new projects to increase innovation, resilience and profitability for U.S. soybean farmers in 2021 and beyond. USB Chair Jim Carroll III and USB CEO Polly Ruhland discussed the impact of these investments to U.S. soybean farmers in a newly released video report from the meeting.
USB Board Meeting
The board considered several hundred proposals focused on increasing the value of U.S. soybeans and paving the way for new demand. These projects range from promoting the sustainability of U.S. Soy as a market differentiator to reputation management strategies to enhance end-user perceptions of soy products, in addition to research that strengthens the resilience of soybean production, improves protein meal quality and develops new industrial uses for soybean oil, among a multitude of other topics. The proposals all share a common goal – maximizing profit opportunities for U.S. soybean farmers.
“The decisions made by farmers today will have a significant impact on the U.S. Soy industry for the next year and even the decade ahead,” said Jim Carroll III, USB Chair and soybean farmer from Arkansas. “Our farmer-leaders who participated represent more than 500,000 U.S. soybean farmers across the country, and I’m proud to say we have done our job to make sure their investments – and our own as farmers ourselves – were put to the best use possible for the greatest return.”
The USB farmer-leaders approved 176 checkoff-funded projects for the 2021 fiscal year during the virtual meeting held July 29, 2020.
“Farmer decisions on USB’s strategic investments will help ensure support through difficult times, as well as act as catalysts to spark a bright future for U.S. Soy,” said Polly Ruhland, USB CEO. “The soy checkoff’s greatest strength is our network of farmer-leaders and their wisdom on what will create the most impact at the field level and beyond their farm gate.”
Among the selected investments, included below are a few examples of the innovative projects prioritized by USB’s farmer-leaders, across the target area and action team verticals.
• Sustainability Supply: This includes a focus on identifying biotic factors (living components of an ecosystem) and abiotic factors (non-living, chemical and physical components of an ecosystem) to improve soybean production. For example, one abiotic issue that USB investments will address is drought resiliency on the farm and its impact on yield limitations. The project focuses on developing drought tolerant soybeans, testing these new varieties, developing a drought tolerant germplasm and identifying what leads to the plant’s ability in adapting to dry conditions. In addition, the researchers have begun to combine drought tolerance with high protein or high oleic, low linoleic traits. USB will invest up to $15.4 million in the Supply Action Team across meal, oil and sustainability.
• Meal Marketplace: This includes a focus on U.S. soybean value chain transparency around quality and product differentiation to drive global preference for U.S. soy and partnerships. For example, as part of this investment effort, USB will continue to support nationwide soybean quality surveys to inform decisions around product improvement. The intention is to better connect the supply and demand side of the soybean value chain to increase product quality and market share, both in the U.S. and overseas. Desired outcomes include increased visibility of U.S. soybean quality that delivers long-term, demand-driven value throughout the value chain. USB will invest up to $18.6 million in the Marketplace Action Team across meal, oil and sustainability.
• Oil Demand: This includes a focus on soybean oil as a renewable alternative in replacing petroleum-, formaldehyde- and palm-based products, to name a few. For example, in addressing the failing concrete infrastructure in the U.S., USB has partnered with PoreShield, which is a concrete sealer that utilizes soy methyl ester (biodiesel) and polystyrene. The objective of this project is to build awareness and demonstrate to key stakeholders the long-term solution that uniquely addresses this issue – distinguishing PoreShield as a concrete durability enhancement. USB will invest up to $34.3 million in the Demand Action Team across meal, oil and sustainability.
The soy checkoff’s goal of increasing the resilience of U.S. Soy stems from a long series of unprecedented challenges. But, even in a time of crisis during this pandemic, the checkoff has proven it is prepared and relentless in its work on behalf of farmers.
“We have been through a record year of hardship and uncertainty, but we must focus on the future,” said Carroll. “It seems like farming and living have never been harder, but the determination and commitment of farmers and the checkoff continue to lead us forward.”