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Touting U.S. Soy’s Sustainability To Customers Abroad

Soybean farmers have always known they care for the environment. Now, more and more of the rest of the world is getting that message, too.

According to a soy-checkoff-funded report, soil erosion per metric ton of U.S. soybeans produced has decreased 65 percent over the past 30 years, while energy use is down 46 percent and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have dropped 47 percent. Yet yield has increased 53 percent over the same time period.

In total, these figures illustrate U.S. soybean farmers’ excellent sustainability performance, and U.S. soybean industry organizations, such as the soy checkoff, use this information to help expand and develop international markets.

The study, titled “U.S. Soybean Farmers’ Sustainability Report 2013,” is part of the Soybean Sustainability Assurance Protocol (SSAP), which supports customers who demand sustainably-sourced products. The protocol outlines the regulations, processes and practices that prove U.S. soy production is sustainable.

More specifically, the study shows famers have been continuously improving their sustainability performance.

“The protocol was developed to show what U.S. farmers are already doing: growing their crops in a sustainable manner and always striving for continuous improvement,” says Laura Foell, an Iowa farmer who serves on the United Soybean Board (USB) and is secretary of the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC), the soy checkoff’s international marketing arm.

Foell’s no-till operation serves as one example of U.S. farmers’ commitment to the environment.

“We’re no-tillers, so we don’t disturb the residue on the ground,” she says. “In the spring, we plant into the residue. By not disturbing the residue, we have increased the soil moisture and organic matter.”

USSEC, USB and the American Soybean Association have teamed up to communicate U.S. soybean farmers’ ability to produce a sustainable and reliable supply of high-quality soybeans. By showing international customers that U.S. soy meets their needs, the protocol is designed to expand international soy demand.

These organizations continue to promote the protocol in international markets. The following outreach methods are underway:

  • The U.S. Soybean Farmers’ Sustainability Report 2013 highlights the protocol, U.S. farmers’ commitment to producing high-yielding soybeans with minimal impact on the environment, and some of the sustainable farming practices that reduce carbon emissions, energy use, GHG emissions and soil erosion.
  • The U.S. Soybean Farmer Sustainability Story is an account of four farmers’ experiences sustainably growing soybeans. These farmers use various sustainable practices, including improving wildlife habitat, conservation tillage, precision agriculture, improving soil health, water management and demonstrating social responsibility.
  • SSAP advertisements, such as the one pictured above, are placed in feed and food industry publications in Europe. These are targeted at raising soy customers’ awareness that U.S. soy production is sustainable and constantly improving.

Farmers are always looking for ways to improve their operations, and now with the protocol, farmers can continue to farm sustainably as a way to ensure U.S. soy demand stays strong.

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