The Soybean Checkoff and Red Meat ExportsPoultry and livestock producers in the United States have a direct impact on soybean farmers and their bottom lines. That’s because animal agriculture represents the largest domestic consumer of U.S. soybean meal, and that meal consumption makes up a huge chunk of soybean demand. As a result, the United Soybean Board (USB) and soybean checkoff have made animal agriculture a priority issue and continue to invest in the long-term success of these important industries.
“It’s important that soybean farmers support their number one customer,” says Jim Schriver, a USB director and soybean farmer from Indiana. “Domestic poultry and livestock consume about 98 percent of the soybean meal we produce in this country. This accounts for about 1.4 billion bushels of soybeans that are raised here. That represents half our total soybean production being consumed by U.S. animal agriculture.”
The soybean checkoff partners with livestock and poultry organizations, including the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), to help domestic animal agriculture remain profitable. These partnerships work to maintain and increase current export markets, retain and gain customers and grow animal agriculture in the U.S. which, in turn, grows demand for soybean meal.
Schriver says supporting the U.S. animal agriculture industry brings multiple benefits, not just to soybean farmers, but to their communities as well.
“In order for us to have a viable industry, we have to sell those soybeans, either domestically or internationally,” says Schriver. “I’d rather see it value-added in the United States, and that’s why it’s very important to support the animal ag industry because that money stays in your community.”
In the past couple of years, as the U.S. pork industry encountered tough times, the soybean checkoff provided additional financial support designed to boost international sales of U.S. pork through a program known as the Pork Stimulus Plan. USB partnered with state checkoff boards in Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota to help support USMEF’s efforts to boost pork exports to Mexico, Japan and South Korea.
“Our partnership with USMEF has been growing steadily over the last few years,” says Schriver. “We had some targeted programs that were designed to boost international pork sales in late 2009, just prior to the holidays. They were very successful, supporting increased pork shipments into those countries. We see a direct relationship between the late 2009 effort and the results of the promotions for U.S. pork products in those countries.”
Additionally, the soybean checkoff created a web site at www.animalag.org to help communicate the importance of animal agriculture to soybean farmers and the U.S. economy. To find out more about soybean checkoff-funded efforts to support animal agriculture, visit the official soybean checkoff web site: www.unitedsoybean.org.