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Soybean Farmers Invest in Soy Research and Promotion

Soybeans grow in countless fields throughout the country, and soy contributes to a wealth of food and other products. The global appetite for soy is growing. Soy consumption has more than doubled since 2000.1 U.S. soybean farmers have helped meet this demand, thanks in part to the soy checkoff.
 
What is the soy checkoff?
 
Farmers grow soybeans throughout the United States. Soybean farmers individually contribute .5 percent of the price they receive for each bushel of soybeans they sell. Then they collectively invest these funds — the soy checkoff — in research and promotion to develop and grow product markets. Other agricultural commodities such as beef, dairy and eggs also have checkoffs.
 
Half of each farmer’s contribution goes to the farmer’s state soybean board, called Qualified State Soybean Boards, for local research and marketing. The other half goes to the national level, the United Soybean Board (USB).
 
What is the soy checkoff used for?
 
Soybeans are comprised of protein-rich meal and versatile oil. Most soybeans, whether used domestically or exported, are crushed to separate those components to be used in countless ways. The soy checkoff grows and creates markets for soy products and helps farmers meet customer needs through research to improve soybean production and prove soy functionality. The soy checkoff also promotes use of soy products.
 
These programs build soybean demand here and around the world, ensuring a strong future for U.S. soybean farmers. At the same time, they create opportunities for consumers to have more sustainable options for many products, from nutritious animal feed and cleaner-burning biodiesel to versatile vegetable oil, which is often 100 percent soybean oil.
 
What are the soy checkoff’s goals?
 
1. Capture the full value of U.S. soybean meal.
 
The protein portion of soybeans is meal that can be used in feed, food and industrial applications. Animal agriculture consumes nearly 97 percent of soybean meal used in the U.S. 
 
Chickens, pigs, turkeys, cattle and fish need high-quality protein to thrive. Soybean meal provides high levels of protein, amino acids and digestible energy. The soy checkoff encourages nutritionists around the world to use the nutrient density of U.S. soybean meal to help feed and grow their herds and flocks.
 
2. Build preference for U.S. soybean oil.
About 61 percent of the soybean oil used in the U.S. goes into the food industry for frying, baking, sauces and more.2 The neutral taste and flexibility in food preparation makes soybean oil a popular ingredient choice. The rest fills many non-food needs
For example, in the 1990s the soy checkoff launched the biodiesel industry as a cleaner-burning, renewable alternative to petroleum diesel. Made from soybean oil and other renewable sources, the market for biodiesel grew from nothing to nearly 3 billion gallons per year, according to the National Biodiesel Board.
 
The soy checkoff also helped develop high oleic soybean oil, an advanced oil crushed from high oleic soybeans. High oleic soybeans naturally produce oil with a profile very similar to olive oil. High oleic soybean oil performs well under high heat stress, making it ideal for frying and cooking.
 
3. Enhance and share U.S. soy sustainability performance.
 
Customers who use soybeans have their own sustainability goals, farmers grow soybeans and manage natural resources to meet those goals. Analysis of U.S. Department of Agriculture data shows that since 1980, soybean farmers have decreased soil erosion by 47 percent, demonstrating soil conservation and improving soil health.3 They have also cut energy use per bushel by 35 percent, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
 
The U.S. exports about 60 percent of its soybean production.4 For global customers, the soy checkoff helped create the U.S. Soybean Sustainability Assurance Protocol, or the SSAP, that verifies the sustainability of U.S. soy products. According to the U.S. Soybean Export Council, 95 percent of U.S. farms currently participate in the program and meet the sustainability criteria.
 
How does the soy checkoff work?
 
The soy checkoff efforts are directed by 73 volunteer farmer-leaders who make up the United Soybean Board. These leaders from around the country are nominated by state soybean boards and appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. They set research and marketing goals and approve projects to benefit all soybean farmers.
 
Every five years, the soy checkoff produces a return-on-investment report for farmers. The next report will be available in 2019, but the 2014 report shows farmers have received about $6.50 in return from every $1 invested.
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