November 28, 2003



Soybean Checkoff Drives US Soybean Exports To Record LevelS 3rd Year In A Row


World demand for soybeans remains strong. U.S. soybean exports reached record levels for the third year in a row, thanks in part to U.S. soybean farmer investments in checkoff-funded international marketing activities.

According to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the United States exported more than 1 billion bushels of soybeans this past marketing year. And in the current marketing year, the record-setting pace of U.S. soybean exports is set to continue.

"International marketing programs funded by the soybean checkoff played a crucial role in increasing U.S. soybean exports," said United Soybean Board (USB) International Marketing Chair Criss Davis, a soybean farmer from Shullsburg, Wis. "The checkoff helped to develop an effective new strategic export plan to keep U.S. soybean exports growing despite dramatic increases in global soy production."

Factors such as global competition and decreased U.S. soybean planting projections for the next several years led soybean checkoff farmer-leaders to develop strategies to increase the value of U.S. soy exports and U.S. soybean farmer share of targeted export markets. To help U.S. soybean farmers remain competitive in the global market, USB adopted three strategic priorities - building customer preference for U.S. soy products and adding value to U.S. soy exports, building demand by targeting specific markets, and addressing market access and trade policy issues.

According to Davis, the growth of U.S. soybean sales to China demonstrates how the new export strategy has been effective. China, the largest customer for U.S. soybeans, imported more than 282 million bushels. With China¡¯s improved economy, market-building activities supported by checkoff investments and USDA Foreign Agriculture Service funds, and implemented by the American Soybean Association, have been able to make an impact by incorporating soybean meal in manufactured feed for the Chinese poultry, swine and aquaculture industries. As a result, China has increased imports of U.S. soybeans by 251% over the past five years. There may be even more exports of U.S. soybeans to China, provided soybean trade barriers be resolved.

The European Union imported more than 209 million bushels of U.S. soybeans this past marketing year, making it the largest regional customer of U.S. soy. As part of the strategic export plan, checkoff-funded programs for Western Europe have focused on educating and working with government policy officials and European industry associations on issues such as biotechnology, labeling and traceability.

Once again, Canada is the top customer of U.S. soybean meal, purchasing the equivalent of more than 48 million bushels. Mexico bought the most U.S. soybean oil, importing the equivalent of more than 36 million bushels of U.S. soybeans, a 48-percent increase over last year.

"We export close to half of our entire soybean crop, so these soybean checkoff-funded export activities remain vital to keeping me and other U.S. soybean farmers competitive," Davis said.

USB is made up of 61 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff.

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