Nebraska soybean farmers have been tackling some big issues this past season. Between the early-season flooding, the pervasive rain, new and devastating pests and the trade war with the largest soybean market, producers haven’t caught many breaks in 2019.
The Nebraska Soybean Association and the checkoff’s Nebraska Soybean Board have been working diligently to support their members throughout the challenging season.
“Primarily we have been promoting soybean products into new markets,” said Victor Bohuslavsky, executive director of the Nebraska Soybean Board. “Predominantly through bio-diesel.”
According to the Nebraska Soybean Board, more than 500 million bushels of soybeans were used for biodiesel in the past year. This has helped increase the price of soybeans by 11%, Bohuslavsky said.
Through the American Soybean Association, the NSB will continue to work with the EPA for improvements in the implementation of the Renewable Fuel Standards program going forward, he said.
Another way the checkoff has been benefitting Nebraska farmers is with value-added soybean products, such as textured soy protein, soy protein concentrates and soy protein isolates, he said.
“The world wants protein, and the fastest way to get it is through plants, like soybeans,” Bohuslavsky said. “The second is through meat, of course, which we help with, as well.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that season-ending soybean stocks will be about 460 million bushels. This has helped boost the price of soybeans, as well. Mostly, the crop reduction is based on a lower yield, the report stated.
Trade issues have been the biggest drawback for soybean producers this year. With tariffs imposed by China, the largest importer of U.S. soybeans in the world, new markets have had to be developed if not discovered.
“The new trade deals with Japan and Vietnam are very important,” said Greg Anderson, Nebraska Soybean Board member from Newman Grove. “Japan, especially, is a long-time customer of U.S. soybeans.”
Anderson said that the new trade deal will helpful, but will not off-set the loss of the majority of the China markets. The Phase 1 deal with China announced by the Trump Administration needs to be sealed in early November to jump start what hopefully will lead to robust sales in the future, he said.
“China is such a mega-market compared to Japan and Vietnam,” Anderson said. “I am hopeful that the new trade deals will provide momentum and impetus for other trade deals.”
Movement in the Mexican market may improve exports. If Congress will finally sign off on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, it would help alleviate the export woes, he said.
“Mexico is front and center. Here is a customer right on our doorstep and they want our soybeans and agricultural products,” Anderson said. “Mexico is a huge market for U.S. soybeans and, logistically, very important for Nebraska and Kansas as unit trains carry soybeans directly to them.”
Another international country that is emerging as an importer of U.S. soybeans is Egypt, he said. The U.S. Department of Agriculture projects 4 million tons of soybean exports to Egypt from the U.S. for 2019-20. That is almost three times the 2018-2019 total.
On the legislative and education front, board member Anne Meis, who is on the U.S. Farmers and Rancher Alliance Board of Directors is teaming with that organization to confront misinformation about agricultural products.
“Our unified voice will be used to turn the conversation from an attack on modern agriculture, to how agriculturists are true stewards of natural resources,” she said.
Meis, who represents District 1 – which includes Antelope, Boyd and Cedar counties – said that the “USFRA is gathering top scientists, members of state and federal government, food companies and agriculture experts to address sustainability in a collaborative way” with farmers leading the charge.
“The goal is to speak with a unified voice,” she said. “To make a positive impact for acceptance of modern farm practices and raising animals.”
Meis touts the education efforts of the board, specifically the Soybean Science Institute and the outreach program to fourth grade students. The Nebraska Soybean Board offers the Soybean Science Institute, a two-week training program for middle school science teachers where the basics of growing soybeans are integrated into their science standards.
“We hope this sparks an interest in science, with a Nebraska crop at the center,” Meis said. “This spark can then develop into a love of chemistry, biology, soil science, agronomy and innovation that will lead us into future discoveries.”
In 2020, the Nebraska Soybean Board will continue to support its educational programing by sending soybean educators into fourth grade classrooms, she said.
There is difficulty in every opportunity and opportunity in every difficulty. With changes in trade flows (China being the wildcard), for soybean producers, that maxim may hold more true than ever for the 2020 season.
Jon Burleson can be reached at email@example.com.