More than 7 billion people inhabit planet Earth, and about 2 billion more will join within 40 years, according to the United Nations Population Division. While many decision makers express concern about sustaining the population, often they forget to ask an important question: Are U.S. farmers ready to produce the food needed to feed the growing population?
The United Soybean Board (USB) and soybean checkoff has responded with a resounding ‘yes,’ by funding soybean production research designed to help U.S. farmers grow as much as possible with as few resources needed.
“Soybean farmers must stay in tune with what is going on in the United States in order to stay ahead of any problems, such as the growing population,” said Jason Bean, a soybean farmer from Holcomb, Mo., and USB director. “Finding ways to figure out how to get everything out of our soybeans in order to have the best yield is crucial for success.”
In order to stay ahead of the curve, much of the research USB funds focuses on creating new U.S. soybean varieties more resistant to the pressures from pests and diseases that decrease yield. “Every year, we do a major production research project in each region that allows us to figure out the No. 1 yield robber,” says Bean. “Whether it is finding out how to resist pests, like aphids, stink bugs or soybean cyst nematodes, or determining drought tolerance, checkoff-funded research is intended to locate the problem, and then is shared with farmers across the United States.”
To help get this research into farmers’ hands, USB has established a program to help state soybean checkoff boards, land-grant universities and local extension service staff share checkoff-funded research results with those who need it most. To date, twelve states participate in the program.
But informing U.S. soybean farmers is only one part of the equation. Making sure consumers are informed about the process is important too, says Bean. USB is made up of 69 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. Checkoff funds are invested in the areas of animal utilization, human utilization, industrial utilization, industry relations, market access and supply. 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.