Over 1.5 billion bushels of soy, valued at more than $12 billion, were exported from the United States this year, according to the United Soybean Board.

U.S. soybean farmers shipped out over 1.1 billion bushels of whole beans. Up 11 percent from last year were exports of soybean meal totaling 346 million bushels. Soybean oil weighed in at nearly 1.1 million metric tons with an increase of 68 percent from last year’s numbers.

“Checkoff-funded global demand-building programs have demonstrated their success with another record-setting year,” says Terry Ecker, soybean farmer from Elmo, Mo., USB International Marketing chair. “The programs work diligently to make sure that overseas customers prefer U.S. soy. The numbers prove our checkoff farmer leaders understand the importance of marketing U.S. soybeans.”

China is again the top importer of U.S. soybeans with 490 million bushels, which go toward human and animal consumption. China also imported 171,000 metric tons of soy oil from the United States, which is used as a cooking oil and other food uses.

With 131 million bushels of U.S. soybeans, Mexico comes in as the second-largest importer, followed closely by Japan with nearly 100 million bushels.

U.S. soybeans also maintained a strong foothold in the European Union with Germany importing 45 million bushels, the Netherlands shipping in 43 million bushels and Spain accepting 19 million bushels.

To maintain and increase international demand for U.S. soy, the checkoff is involved in informing overseas markets about U.S. soybean production. The checkoff supports programs that increase U.S. soy exports such as foreign buying teams to the U.S. and livestock feeding demonstrations that prove the advantages of using U.S. soybeans.

Also, USB farmer leaders travel abroad to meet with farmers, agricultural associations and government officials to inform them about the quantity, quality and nutritional benefits of U.S. soy.

“These numbers show the success of the checkoff and farmers working together,” says Vicki Coughlin, a soybean farmer from Watertown, Wis., and United Soybean Board (USB) director.

U.S. soybean farmers support the export of their products through their soybean checkoff. The checkoff is involved in programs to keep trade channels open and develop new relationships. The communication and education efforts of the soybean checkoff have proven most fruitful in keeping U.S. soy in over 80 countries worldwide.

Checkoff funding used to support international marketing is matched with funds from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).