According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service, U.S. soy exports set a record for the fourth year in a row with exports of 1.9 billion bushels for the last marketing year.

Soybean-checkoff funded international sales efforts helped to achieve these record-setting export numbers. The United Soybean Board (USB) continues to devote the largest percentage of its budget toward increasing U.S. soy sales abroad.

U.S. soybean farmers shipped out over 1.45 billion bushels of whole soybeans, up from the 1.24 billion bushels exported last year. Also, increasing in the 2009/2010 marketing year were exports of soybean meal totaling 428 million bushels.

Soybean oil weighed in at 1.4 million metric tons. The USDA credited strong early season sales and a projected increase in global import demand — especially for China, which imported 825 million bushels — for the continued success of U.S. soy exports.

Meanwhile, the U.S. soy sector started the new export marketing year with a considerable amount of soybean export commitments on the books. USDA reported that, as of Sept. 1, 2010, international customers had committed to more than 540 million bushels for the new marketing year.

In addition, there were over 82 million bushels of soybeans sold in the 2009/10 marketing year that were expected to be carried over to 2010/11.

China remained the leading buyer of U.S. soybeans with known commitments of over 330 million bushels as of Sept. 1, 2010.

Other top importing markets for the 2010 marketing year included

• Mexico — 120 million bushels.

• Japan — 86 million bushels.

• Taiwan — 57 million bushels.

• Indonesia — 53 million bushels.

• Egypt — 35 million bushels.

• Turkey — 32 million bushels.

• Netherlands — 29 million bushels.

• Korea — 25 million bushels.

“It should not be surprising that U.S. soy exports again broke records,” says Jim Call, soybean farmer from Madison, Minn. and USB International Marketing program chair. “Part of this can be contributed to checkoff-funded global demand-building programs. But, more importantly, this follows an increasing trend in the amount of developing countries’ whose economies have evolved and their populations have begun to demand a growing amount of protein in their diets that these countries cannot supply.”

Checkoff highly involved

To maintain and increase international demand for U.S. soy, the checkoff remains highly involved in updating international customers about U.S. soybean production and the quality of U.S. soy.

The checkoff supports programs that increase U.S. soy exports such as hosting foreign buying teams to the United States and conducting poultry and livestock feeding demonstrations abroad that prove the advantages of using U.S. soy. Also, USB farmer-leaders meet with foreign customers, agricultural associations and government officials to inform them about the quantity, quality and nutritional benefits of U.S. soy.

“China will continue to be a major importer of U.S. soy because this country’s population will continue to grow beyond what it itself can produce,” says Call. “The U.S. will continue to be a key supplier to China, but there remains competition from South America.”