Two years ago, countries in the Middle East, such as Syria, were promising markets for U.S. soy exports, but political unrest threatens the stability of the region and has long disrupted lines of trade. This week, leaders from the soy checkoff and the American Soybean Association (ASA) met with Middle Eastern and North African customers in Amman, Jordan, to discuss secure ways to maintain exports during turbulent times.
“Markets in the Middle East represent a valuable and impactful dual opportunity for the U.S. soy family,” says ASA Chairman Steve Wellman, a soybean farmer from Syracuse, Neb. “Soybeans provide nutritious protein for those in need; and as the markets emerge and buying power increases, so does the demand for the animal agriculture products of which our soybeans are such an integral part.”
Most soybean imports in the Middle East and North Africa are crushed, and the meal is used for poultry and aquaculture feed, leaving the oil for use in cooking and frying. Between 2010-2011, Syria, as a hub of soy imports, brought in 18 million bushels of U.S. soybeans. The hope for this meeting in Jordan is to find more stable lines for trade to increase U.S. soy exports to the region. Countries such as Egypt and the United Arab Emirates could be potential trade centers for U.S. agriculture in this area.
While in the region, Wellman and United Soybean Board (USB) farmer-leader Scott Singlestad attended the dedication of the U.S. Soybean Export Council’s Dubai office. This office, located in an international business hub of the area, will provide the U.S. soy industry access to even more potential customers.
“We’re there to provide information that they want on soy in nutrition for both humans and animals,” adds Scott Singlestad, soybean farmer from Waseca, Minn. “There’s no better way to keep peace in the world than to make sure everyone has enough food.”
The 69 farmer-directors of USB oversee the investments of the soy checkoff to maximize profit opportunities for all U.S. soybean farmers. These volunteers invest and leverage checkoff funds to increase the value of U.S. soy meal and oil, to ensure U.S. soybean farmers and their customers have the freedom and infrastructure to operate, and to meet the needs of U.S. soy’s customers. As stipulated in the federal Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soy checkoff.