Commodity Classic 2021 – The State of U.S. Soy

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader: a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean checkoff

The 2021 Commodity Classic features a number of informational sessions ranging on topics from grain marketing, to crop production, to farm policy. One of the kick-off sessions for soybean farmers was “The State of U.S. Soy.” The roundtable discussion hosted by Tyne Morgan featured Dan Farney, Soybean Farmer from Illinois and Chairman of the United Soybean Board (USB); Meagan Kaiser, Missouri Soybean Farmer and Treasurer of the USB; David Iverson, Farmer from South Dakota and Secretary of the USB; and Belinda Burrier, Maryland Soybean Farmer and Director and Marketplace Chair for USB.

Success for soybean farmers in today’s market takes more than just a yield at harvest. Increasing demand for soybeans is an essential part of the equation. The soybean checkoff helps facilitate market growth and creation by funding and directing marketing, research and commercialization programs. By driving value at every point in the value chain, from infrastructure to industrial uses, and from value on the farm to demand with end users, the soybean checkoff helps ensure a strong and profitable future for U.S. soybean farmers.

Board Chairman, Dan Farney, highlighted the many projects and initiatives being implemented by the soy checkoff.


Meagan Kaiser and her husband grow soybeans in Missouri, and she is the Treasurer of USB. “The soybean checkoff is really just farmers working together to solve problems as a group that they cannot solve alone,” Kaiser said. “The check-off breaks down barriers of entry and together finds a home for our crop.”

Megan Kaiser, USB Treasurer, Missouri Soybean Farmer, photo credit USB

One example of a barrier was on the lower Mississippi River. A dredging project is underway where the river bottom is being dredged 5 foot deeper for 256 miles.

“This will allow more weight to be loaded on ocean freighters which will provide for an extra 500,000 bushels per load so they can be more efficient,” Kaiser said. “That translates to hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue to soybean farmers. The US Transportation system is one of the best and most efficient in the world, but it is aging and in need of repair. It takes rails, rivers and roads to keep us all efficient. The river system is a space that we can return value to the farmer.”

The soybean checkoff does not own or build infrastructure. It can help fund and look at feasibility studies. In the Mississippi River dredging project, the checkoff spent $2 million to leverage the $241 million project with funds from federal and state partners. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers received federal funding through Congress, and work began this past July.

Animal agriculture

David Iverson says soybean meal used in animal feed rations is extremely important to U.S. soybean farmers.

“About 97% of all U.S. soybean meal is fed to livestock, swine, poultry and fish, both at home and abroad. U.S. Soy meal has been the primary source of amino acids in animal feeds for over 50 years,” Iverson said.

David Iverson, USB Secretary, photo credit USB

“U.S. soybean meal has a nutritional bundle that combines protein and energy unlike any other feed ingredient. U.S. Soy provides sustainability and differentiates itself from our competitors. It provides unique benefits and value to our customers.”

Research is working to improve the composition of amino acids.

“Livestock, poultry and aquaculture are top customers, and the soybean checkoff and USB are working to ensure that our product meets their needs,” Iverson said. “Research is showing the advantages of U.S. soy. Testing to calculate the entire benefit of U.S.Soy to better meet the needs for our end users and domestic and international customers is ongoing.”

Industrial use

“U.S. Soybeans are hitting the road,” Farney said. “Through the soybean check-off, new soybean meal and oil uses are being developed in the non-food and industrial space. Biodiesel continues to be a leader in this area. Other new developments in the industrial space include products such as tires, shoe treds, paint, and backing for artificial turf.”

Soy is also being used on roads to fix potholes.

USB Board Chairman, Dan Farney. Photo provided by USB.

“An Iowa State research team and the Asphalt Paving Association of Iowa are working on a new product with high oleic soybean oil to create a polymer to bind the asphalt. Initial results show that it can outperform petroleum-based asphalt and other products,” Farney said. “The renewable soy-based product also helps companies meet their sustainability goals. It benefits the customers and also is a big opportunity to farmers. With over 300 million tons of asphalt pavement was used in the United States last year, the potential is for more than 1 million tons of soybeans to be used each year in this application.”

A new concrete sealer known as PoreShield is a soy-based penetrating concrete protector that is designed for major highway projects, bridge construction, and other roadway infrastructure. It provides solutions to the costly problems of salt deicers, freeze-thaw damage.

“An estimated 200 bushels of soybeans are needed for every mile of 2 lane highway treated with PoreShield,” Farney said. “Soy oil is renewable and green, so we can always grow and make more of it. Soy oil for industrial applications is less risky to the environment if there is a spill because it can degrade naturally.”

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