ST. LOUIS (Sept. 4, 2013) – From the use of high-quality soy meal for animals around the world to soy oil for human consumption, soybean farmers from around the United States learned about some of the many ways customers use U.S. soybeans during the United Soybean Board’s (USB) 2013 See for Yourself program.

“The farmers on this trip really got their eyes opened to what the soy checkoff does for them as a producer and marketer of soybeans,” says David Hartke, a USB farmer-leader and soybean farmer from Teutopolis, Ill. “It’s a great grass-roots effort to educate farmers on where their checkoff dollars are going and how it benefits them.”

Participants started the program in St. Louis, visiting four sites:

  • ADM, one of the largest agricultural processors in the world.
  • Schaeffer Oil Company, which uses soy oil in many modern additives, such as frictional modifiers and synthetics.
  • Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, which focuses on plant research, including soybeans improved through the use of biotechnology.
  • Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, which uses biodiesel in equipment and vehicles.

The participants then visited multiple sites in Panama and Colombia to learn more about the soy industry and how the soybeans they raise are used outside of the United States. They toured the Panama Canal, where work continues to expand the waterway used to ship almost half of U.S. soy exports. In Colombia, they visited one of the country’s leading animal-feed manufacturers, trout farms and other places that use U.S. soy, in addition to learning about a program to use U.S. soy to help local children get better nutrition.

“I knew checkoff funds were used to promote the use of soybeans, but I didn’t know the funds were used in so many different countries,” says Quint Pottinger, a soybean farmer from New Haven, Ky. “I also didn’t know the checkoff worked to open new markets for U.S. soybeans. I learned so much with the See for Yourself program, and I’m so happy I was able to go.”

The annual See for Yourself program also provides the 10 farmer-participants with the opportunity to talk with soy-checkoff farmer-directors about their checkoff investment. They can also visit with checkoff leaders about other checkoff activities, which are aimed at improving the value of U.S. soy meal and oil, ensuring the industry and its customers have the freedom to operate and meeting the needs of U.S. soy customers.

The 69 farmer-directors of USB oversee the investments of the soy checkoff to maximize profit opportunities for all U.S. soybean farmers. These volunteers invest and leverage checkoff funds to increase the value of U.S. soy meal and oil, to ensure U.S. soybean farmers and their customers have the freedom and infrastructure to operate, and to meet the needs of U.S. soy’s customers. As stipulated in the federal Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soy checkoff.