Foreign markets represent a pivotal frontier in the quest to enhance the profitability of American farms. In this pursuit, the United Soybean Board (USB) and the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) have emerged as dynamic champions, tirelessly working to broaden horizons and amplify opportunities through export markets. As the global agricultural landscape evolves, the importance of these organizations’ endeavors cannot be overstated.
USSEC is singularly focused on “differentiating, elevating preference, and attaining market access for the use of U.S. Soy for human consumption, aquaculture, and livestock feed in 80+ countries internationally.” Funded by the soy checkoff, USDA Foreign Agricultural Service and industry, USSEC is composed of members representing the entire supply chain. This includes farmers, soybean processors, global shippers, merchandisers and agricultural
USB farmer-leader Darren Kadlec from Pisek, North Dakota, has served on the USSEC board since 2018 and he firmly believes that developing markets and changing the way that soybeans are marketed will add value to the entire soybean industry.
“Most of our beans go to the Pacific Northwest and eventually end up being shipped abroad, mostly to China,” said Kadlec. “Because our beans were largely exported, I was attracted to USSEC because of their commitment to opening additional markets, strengthening current markets, and differentiating ourselves to gain market access and elevate preference for U.S. Soy.”
The work that USSEC and its members are engaged with is helping to change the way U.S. Soy is seen around the world.
“The tools that we are using now have helped us to differentiate our soybeans from those of our competing export countries. We can better show the value of nutrition in our soybean meal that will be used for livestock, pork, agriculture and poultry rations. We are in a better position to use known values to prove that our products are the very best and worth a premium, in some cases,” said Kadlec. “We heard in the past that our meal has a lot of intrinsic value. Now we can prove that components in our meal are allowing higher performance in the utilizing species through energy. Couple that with outstanding quality and consistency and we really have a tremendous product to offer overseas customers.”
As Kadlec reflects on his time with USSEC thus far, he notes changes in the global perception of U.S. Soy.
“With the biofuel revolution, we are adding crush capacity. We used to want the meal because that was where the value was. Now, we want the meal and the soybean oil, and there is increased demand for both. USSEC wanted to utilize more soybean meal, and we can do that in several ways. We can diversify new markets, and we can utilize additional soybean meal in our own livestock. We have the ‘gold standard’ protein source in animal agriculture, and we continue to make this case to overseas buyers,” said Kadlec.
Overseas buyers have received the message well. They are keenly aware of the changes the industry is undergoing and recognize the opportunity it presents to them.
“Soybean meal is priced very competitively with other protein sources that they are considering, but those other sources simply cannot match the nutritional benefits of U.S. soybean meal,” said Kadlec. “We are working hard to help buyers understand the nutritional benefits of our soybean meal and elevate the preference for U.S. Soy.”
According to USSEC, one important aspect of soybean meal is the energy component. The energy content needs to be considered by buyers when assessing the total intrinsic nutritional value of the soybean meal in swine and poultry diets. The energy level in soybean meal is often overlooked, which can be costly because energy is the most expensive component of the diet. Compared to other soybean meal origins analyzed, the U.S. has a higher net energy (NE) and apparent metabolizable energy, nitrogen-corrected (AMEn) values than Brazil and Argentina. NE and AMEn are the most common energy measures for swine and poultry diets, respectively. Sucrose also contributes to higher energy levels. Sucrose levels in U.S. soybean meal have been consistently higher than Brazil, and comparable to the Argentinean meal. The higher level of energy and sucrose gives an advantage to U.S. soybean meal, which contributes to reducing diet costs and increasing animal performance and efficiency (source).
Kadlec says that U.S. soybean farmers may not see the work of USSEC daily, but they should know the hard work that USSEC is doing on their behalf helps to keep the demand for their beans growing every year.
“Soy is used every day in every life. At USB, our goal is to create value and new opportunities utilizing soy. Where this dovetails with USSEC is that USSEC finds new markets for our product, identifies emerging markets where we can introduce U.S. Soy and, at the same time, strengthens our long-term markets to make sure they continue to demand U.S. Soy to provide them with a high-quality and consistently sourced product,” said Kadlec. “As a North Dakota farmer, I do not have the ability to market soybeans to the Philippines, North Africa, Southeast Asia and into Europe by myself. USSEC makes our reach farther and much more effective than any of us can do individually, and we can see firsthand the success that USSEC is having on behalf of U.S. farmers daily.”