Soybean Checkoff Maintains Strong Relationship with Japan Soy Industry

ST. LOUIS – U.S. soybean farmers, who helped sell the equivalent of 86 million bushels of whole soybeans and 14 million bushels of soybean meal to Japan last year, values its third-largest international trading partner as President Barack Obama visits the nation for the November Asia Pacific Economic Conference.  

U.S. agricultural exports remain a key component of the U.S.-Japanese trading relationship, accounting for $40 billion in 2009.

“I commend President Obama for working to strengthen U.S.-Japanese trade relations,” said United Soybean Board (USB) Chairman Phil Bradshaw, a soybean farmer from Griggsville, Ill. “Soybeans rank as the number one U.S. ag export and make a large net contribution to the U.S. agricultural trade balance.”

The soybean checkoff, through its international marketing contactor, the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC), works to maintain U.S. soybean farmers’ 54-year relationship with Japan, which began with a 1956 visit to the United States by a team of representatives of the Japanese soybean industry. Today, the relationship has grown into a productive partnership where the U.S. maintains more than a 70 percent market share of Japanese soybean imports.

Funded by the soybean checkoff and matched by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service, Japanese Partnership Teams continue building relationships and business connections between U.S. farmers and the Japanese soybean industry. Recently, a delegation of soybean farmers, including Bradshaw, met with Japanese importers and buyers to thank them for their business and to explore ways to further grow this important market.

“Japanese demand for U.S. pork and poultry means more U.S. soybean meal utilization,” Bradshaw said. “The Japanese market for the industrial use of soybeans also possesses potential.”

USSEC serves this industry, which is driven by soybean crushing and processing, through trade conferences, reverse trade missions and technical assistance, such as working with the feed industry to increase inclusion rates of soybean meal or working with the food industry to develop new soy products.

USSEC also works to build demand for U.S. soybeans through the promotion of new soy-based products such as inks and solvents. USSEC also implements U.S. dehulled soybean meal promotions, emphasizing the advantages of using dehulled soybean meal in poultry production. In addition, USSEC promotes U.S. food-grade soybeans by increasing the awareness of the U.S. identity-preserved system and providing information on available varieties.

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.