Top Challenges to Selling More U.S. Soy Overseas
The soy checkoff helps maintain and improve demand for U.S. soy around the globe, boosting profits for U.S. soybean farmers and helping meet growing global demand for food. Soy exports have increased so much that more than half the U.S. crop left the country last year. To make sure that growth continues, the checkoff works to address several potential obstacles, including these five:
1. Restrictions on biotechnology. The checkoff collects information about the safety of soybeans improved through biotechnology and disseminates it to decision makers in key global markets to keep them informed. The effort is especially important right now in the European Union, which has a lengthy approval process on new biotech varieties. This summer, the International Soybean Grower’s Alliance (ISGA), which includes the United Soybean Board, went on a mission to the EU to discuss biotech soy production and the need to reduce trade restrictions in that part of the world. The goal is to streamline approval processes and open the market to biotech soy.
2. Trade barriers. The United States has made progress in some countries, signing trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama in the past year. But tariffs, export taxes, production subsidies and other trade barriers remain in place in a number of other countries. These policies discourage potential customers in those countries from importing U.S. soy. The checkoff works in many of these countries to ease these restrictions.
3. Transportation issues. U.S. farmers depend on roads, rivers and rails to move soybeans from their fields to export shipping points. The U.S. transportation system has been a competitive advantage for U.S. soybean farmers for many years. Now, however, that infrastructure is aging and an increase in global demand will stress it even more. A recent checkoff-funded study highlighted several weaknesses where problems could arise as crop production and demand increase. Without upgrades, the deteriorating transportation system threatens U.S. soybean farmers’ global competitiveness.
4. The competition. When it comes to quality, U.S. soybeans are considered second to none. But some international buyers make soybean and soy meal purchasing decisions based on other factors, such as price and ease of delivery. As a result, U.S. soybean farmers are always competing with South American soybean-growing countries like Brazil and Argentina. The checkoff analyzes opportunities all over the globe to make sure U.S. soybean farmers stay a step ahead of their competition.
5. Staying sustainable. Customers around the world will not only be demanding more soybeans in the future; they will be demanding soybeans that are grown in a sustainable manner. The checkoff tracks sustainable farm-management practices and promotes U.S. farmers’ efforts in this area to potential customers.