ST. LOUIS — As some U.S. farmers enter the fields this spring, their center of attention likely won’t be on protein and oil. Meanwhile, that’s exactly the focus of U.S. soy customers when deciding what to buy. According to a recent soy checkoff survey, nearly 70 percent of U.S. soybean farmers feel no need to worry about protein and oil content because they have no problem – at present – selling their soybeans.
“Most farmers see a price per bushel and see soy for the sum of its parts,” says Marc Curtis, immediate past chair for the United Soybean Board. “That value actually is calculated based on the value of meal and oil, minus the processing costs, but we don’t get that sort of transparency.”
The survey also helped measure soy farmers’ receptiveness to a component value system, being fairly reimbursed based on the value of protein and oil in their harvested soybeans. Nearly 66 percent of U.S. soybean farmers responded favorably to this idea, and 35 percent believed it would impact their price positively.
“Farmers already get docked on price for lack of quality; they just aren’t seeing it easily,” Curtis said. “We may have an opportunity to change the way the entire industry looks at soy and its components, and that includes U.S. soybean farmers.”
Curtis leads a newly-formed USB farmer-driven task force to identify ways to increase the value U.S. soybean farmers receive for soy’s components.
In addition to discussing protein and oil with U.S. soy farmers, the survey also researched farmers’ opinions on profitability and the soy checkoff in general. It found that 78 percent of farmers support the soy checkoff. For the first time ever, the USB survey asked, “Do you feel the checkoff program has been a good deal for soybean farmers?” Eighty-two percent of the soybean farmers surveyed said “yes.”