The expectations of the American Soybean Association (ASA) for record soybean exports have been confirmed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) final export sales report of Aug. 31, 2005.

The report confirms U.S. soybean exports during marketing year (MY) 2004/05, exceeded 29,966,000 metric tons, which is equivalent to 1.1 billion bushels This year’s all-time record is more than 3 percent higher than the previous record of 1.063 billion bushels set in MY2001.

“These results are a positive reflection on the efficiency of our international market development program, and the market-opening efforts carried out by ASA,” said ASA President Bob Metz, a soybean producer from West Browns Valley, S.D. “ASA thanks all of our international customers for their purchases of U.S. soybeans during this record setting year.”

To no one’s surprise, this year’s largest buyer was China with purchases of 435.4 million bushels up 44 percent over last year. The European Union-25 was second with 167.9 million bushels, Mexico was third with 127.0 million bushels and Japan was fourth at 114.7 million bushels. Collectively, these four buyers represented 76.8 percent of all U.S. soybean exports last year.

ASA’s activities to promote U.S. soybean exports are credited with influencing customer preferences for soy product usage in animal feed, cooking oil and soyfoods. ASA currently operates foreign offices in Mexico, the European Union, Turkey, India, Japan, Taiwan, China, South Korea, and Singapore.

Through this network of nine overseas offices, ASA manages the world’s only international soy market development program that is responsible for promoting U.S. soy exports to more than 80 countries.

“Soybeans contribute a great deal to the U.S. balance of trade because soybean and soy product exports are the highest value U.S. agricultural commodity export with an annual value of nearly $8 billion,” Metz said. “While ASA builds demand for U.S. soybeans and products, we are also helping to improve the lives of millions of people around the world with high protein animal feeds, quality cooking oil and healthy soyfoods.”

The ASA has implemented U.S. soybean and soy product export promotion activities since 1956. For the current fiscal year, ASA received about $13.6 million or 54 percent of its International Marketing funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service and about $11.5 million from state and national soybean checkoff programs.

Beginning Oct. 1, 2005, ASA and the United Soybean Board have formed the United States Soybean Export Council (SEC) that will implement the International Marketing program for U.S. soybeans. The SEC board will consist of representatives from the American Soybean Association (ASA), the United Soybean Board (USB) and the U.S. soybean industry.

“The SEC will build upon ASA’s nearly 50 years of successful U.S. soybean export activities,” Metz said. “ASA looks forward to working with USB, soy exporters, and others in the soybean industry to continue to positively impact the U.S. soybean export market on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers.”