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South Dakota Soybean Farmers See Gains From Pork Exports

Industry analysis indicates that roughly 60 percent of soybeans grown in South Dakota are ultimately exported as whole beans or in a processed form as either soybean meal or oil. However, that figure does not reflect the total volume of soybean meal exported indirectly through pork and poultry that ends up getting sold internationally.

Pork exports create value for soybean farmers

The role pork exports play in creating value for South Dakota soybean farmers cannot be understated. To help illustrate the impact, the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) points to a recent study by The Juday Group using USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service data.

This study showed that pork exports accounted for an estimated 5.19 million bushels of South Dakota-produced soybean usage in 2023. That translated to a total value just shy of $73 million for the state's soybean industry, assuming last year's annual average soybean price of $14.07 per bushel.

Nationwide, the 96.8 million bushels of soybeans accounted for by pork exports equated to $1.36 billion at $14.07 per bushel.

Checkoff-funded efforts to grow international meat markets

South Dakota farmers support the work of USMEF through their soybean checkoff. The trade association is the largest of its kind within the livestock and meat industry with a reach extending to more than 80 countries worldwide. USMEF focuses on growing demand in these key export markets through a collaborative approach that includes marketing and promotion, trade servicing and securing greater market access.

"Livestock demand is extremely important for South Dakota soybean producers," says Brent Greenway (Mt. Vernon, SD), who serves as a board director for the South Dakota Soybean Association as well as the South Dakota Pork Producers Council. "It's great to see the work the checkoff has done to help our trade."

Soybean quality makes a big difference

Greenway is proud of the quality of soybeans produced in South Dakota and across the country. He believes that the nutritious value of these soybeans contributes to healthier swine herds and, consequently, superior pork products for consumers at home and abroad. "We know that we raise some of the highest-quality soybeans in the world," says Greenway. "We want to show people how we're doing it and why we're doing such a good job."

Not surprisingly, USMEF has leveraged that exact narrative in its ongoing efforts to promote meat exports in foreign markets.

"Our production practices and the quality of our feed inputs is an important part of the story that USMEF promotes to international customers,” says USMEF Chair Randy Spronk (Edgerton, MN).

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