Ten U.S. soybean farmers participated in the United Soybean Board's 2014 See for Yourself tour to St. Louis, Panama and Ecuador in August to learn more about soybean marketing.
See for Yourself invites farmers to see checkoff efforts in action. The stops on the program examined domestic and international transportation, high oleic soybeans, biodiesel and the use of soybean meal for animal feed.
"Before I went on the See for Yourself program, I knew the checkoff was important, but I really couldn't put a finger on exactly why," says LaVell Winsor, See for Yourself participant and farmer from Grantville, Kan. "I feel like I have a much greater understanding now of how checkoff dollars are used, and where the investments are both at home and abroad. I think it is money well spent by U.S. farmers."
The program began with a look at domestic transportation at a barge-loading facility on the Mississippi River. The group heard about the repair situation facing U.S. highways, railways and waterways.
Next, the group visited Monsanto's research campus outside St. Louis to hear about checkoff investment in high oleic soybeans and see other research in action. The high oleic commitment allows seed companies DuPont Pioneer and Monsanto to expand breeding programs and bring more varieties to the market in a shorter time frame.
The last domestic stop was Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, which uses biodiesel in much of its on-site equipment. The facility utilizes a B20 blend (20% biodiesel, 80% petroleum diesel) in nearly all of its stationary generators, airport equipment, and rescue and firefighting equipment. Soybean oil remains the primary feedstock for U.S. biodiesel production, using the oil from more than 400 million bushels of soybeans in 2013.
In Panama City, Panama, the farmers observed the inner workings of the Panama Canal. Soybeans are the No. 1 ag commodity that utilizes the Panama Canal; 560 million bushels of U.S. soybean exports passed through the canal in 2012. It is currently being expanded.
In Ecuador, the group learned how and why soybean meal is used by animal agriculture and aquaculture producers throughout the country. They visited a shrimp farm in Guayaquil, and a poultry producer in Quito.
News source: USB