It takes more than just a bountiful harvest to succeed in today’s agricultural marketplace. Many farmers find strength in numbers by pooling resources and expertise to grow and sustain their businesses in both the U.S. and international markets. For soybean farmers, the United Soybean Board (USB) works to maintain and expand domestic and foreign markets and uses for soybeans and soybean products.
Working through the U.S. Soybean Export Council, the USB annually conducts about 140 projects in international markets to promote U.S. soy products. Comprising 70 soybean farmers, the USB facilitates trade servicing and technical support programs with importers, processors, livestock producers, and aquaculture operations. Another important component of the soybean marketing effort is to invite international buyers, processors, and other users of U.S. soy products to the United States to understand and see firsthand the U.S. soybean production, processing, distribution and transportation systems.
In the most recent marketing year (2014 – 2015), about 59 percent of total U.S. soybean production was exported to international markets – that’s a total of more than 2.3 billion bushels with an astounding value of more than $24 billion. The products included whole soybeans, soybean meal (primarily used for livestock and poultry feed), and edible soybean oil. And, it’s not just soybeans that are seeing great export results. The past seven years have represented the strongest period in history for American agricultural exports, with international sales of U.S. farm and food products totaling $911.4 billion between fiscal years 2009 and 2015.
Major importing countries of U.S. soybean products were China, which alone imported over 1.08 billion bushels of soybeans; Mexico; Japan; Canada; the Philippines; Dominican Republic; and Peru.
The USB is one of more than 20 Research and Promotion programs overseen by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). All of these programs are requested, funded, and driven by the industry they serve, and allow farmers to pool their resources to develop new markets, strengthen existing markets, and conduct important research and promotion activities. AMS provides oversight, also paid for by the industry, which ensures fiscal accountability and program integrity for participating stakeholders.
AMS administers a wide range of programs and services that create domestic and international marketing opportunities for U.S. producers of food, fiber, and specialty crops – including soybean farmers. In addition to overseeing the USB, AMS provides critical market data that supports the marketing of soybeans and soy products through USDA Market News.
Thanks to consistent quality and the hard work and dedication of soybean farmers, with support from AMS and the USB, the U.S. soy industry continues to reach new heights in producing soybean products to help feed the world.