The verdict is out on what factors will weave the fabric of the soybean industry over the next few years. More than a year of visioning and research by a diverse group of industry leaders points to sustainable technologies existing both for soy and other crops.

The soybean checkoff organized the Soy 2020 visioning process to bring together all segments of the soybean industry. Together, a diverse team of industry leaders on Soy 2020’s Steering Committee created the Soy 2020 Vision: Through collaboration and technology, the U.S. soybean industry will be a global marketplace leader.

Now, the committee has released the results of the first “indicator tracking” study. This provides a vantage point on the overall state of the industry for the next five years.

“The outlook is mostly sunny for farmers, both for soybeans and other crops,” says Ike Boudreaux, USB chairman and a soybean farmer from Lebeau, La. “But this means the technology advances other crops experience could challenge soy’s competitiveness. So, soybean farmers and industry need to work even closer to adopt new technologies that will drive success for our industry. That’s why the soybean checkoff took the lead in organizing Soy 2020 — to drive technology and ensure our success.”

This insight is not an end point, but only the beginning of the Soy 2020 process, says Boudreaux.

“Over the last several months, a wide range of experts from across the industry provided input on anticipated changes in 74 measurements affecting the soybean industry,” he says. “Experts were carefully chosen by the Steering Committee and include industry association leaders, university researchers, specialized consultants, industry stakeholders and more. Channeling their expertise through the indicator tracking method provides an overall assessment of the direction the industry will take.”

Kim Magin, director of global oilseeds and industry affairs for Monsanto, serves on the Soy 2020 Steering Committee along with 17 other representatives from the seed, farmer, processor, food, feed, academia, media and financial service facets of the soybean industry.

“The knowledge provided by the indicator tracking is not a crystal ball, but it is a road map that the soybean industry should include in their long-range planning,” says Magin. “Now that we know we are looking at a scenario where sustainable technology will advance both for soy and other crops, we know we need to adopt strategies that will best facilitate success.”

For farmers, this means adopting new soybean traits, such as low-linolenic and — coming in the next year or two — increased-oleic soybeans. It also means supporting trait adoption incentives throughout the value chain.

For industry, this means improving inputs by leveraging technology dollars for soy. It also requires an evolution in soy processing by moving toward segregated processing, transportation and storage procedures that can handle multiple trait-specific soybean crops. And the entire value chain can help move the industry forward by communicating soy-based innovations to end users of food, feed, fuel and more.

“This first indicator tracking is one early step of the Soy 2020 process. The soybean checkoff’s commitment to Soy 2020 will continue as we proceed with twice-yearly updates to the market outlook,” says Boudreaux. “We have built Soy 2020’s strategies into our own long-range strategic plan. We will continue to urge industry to do the same and will also guide our nation’s soybean farmers in the adoption of the sustainable technologies that will ensure our success.”

Farmers and industry can e-mail info@soy2020vision.com to sign up for e-mail updates on Soy 2020. For more information on Soy 2020, the Soy 2020 Vision and its strategies, and the collaborative force of its Steering Committee and other key players, visit www.soy2020vision.com.

USB is made up of 68 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. Checkoff funds are invested in the areas of animal utilization, human utilization, industrial utilization, industry relations, market access and supply. As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff.