Using priority issues established by the entire soy industry and feedback from U.S. soybean farmers, the United Soybean Board (USB) and the soybean checkoff have evaluated the checkoff’s current programs and selected the most critical areas on which to focus in the near future.

Supporting production research on increasing yields will remain the top target area for the farmer-leaders of USB along with improving the composition of the soybean for the end users of U.S. soybeans.

“Production research fits right in with the top priority that came out of the Connections meeting, and that’s increasing yield and increasing or at least maintaining the quality of soybeans,” says Chuck Myers, USB chairman and soybean farmer from Lyons, Neb., referring to the Connections meeting that brought together the entire soy industry to outline top-priority issues for the U.S. soy industry over the next several years.

The checkoff plans to especially focus on improving soybean composition according to the needs and demands of the food industry. This includes developing soybean varieties that produce soy oil with qualities that are required by the food industry.

The soybean checkoff has been effective in forming productive relationships with industry partners to further the use of soy in more industrial products. This leveraging of checkoff funds represents another key area where USB will maintain focus. Myers cites several checkoff success stories in forming partnerships to make checkoff dollars go further — these include the use of soy in Ford vehicle cushions and Cargill’s soy foam that is now used in furniture.

“We’re always interested in leveraging soybean farmers’ checkoff dollars,” explains Myers. “Being able to invest one checkoff dollar and have an industry partner invest four or five or 10 dollars, we can get so much more done that way.”

In fact in 2008, more than $40 million was added to USB funding through partnerships in communications ($1.4 million), domestic marketing, new uses and production research ($24 million), and international marketing ($15 million).

Continuing to establish markets for U.S. soybeans abroad, especially where biotech soybeans are concerned, remains another important order for the checkoff. Soybean checkoff farmer leaders will also work to ensure the future of soybean production in the United States by encouraging sound farming practices.

Supporting the domestic livestock and poultry industries will also remain important to USB in coming years. This includes increasing awareness of the economic impact of these industries on the U.S. economy and U.S. soybean farmers.

“There’s no doubt that over the last couple of years soybean farmers have been faced with huge challenges,” says Myers. “It’s just become a much more risky business to be in, and that’s why it remains critically important for the soybean checkoff to invest those checkoff funds for soybean farmers and in the things that help increase their profitability.”

For more information on the checkoff’s involvement in the U.S. soy industry’s planning process at Connections, visit the library section of the USB Web site www.unitedsoybean.org.

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.