March 25 is National Agriculture Day, a day to celebrate American farmers for their commitment to the land they farm and the people who use the food, feed, fuel and fiber they produce. In recent years, U.S. soybean farmers have grown more efficient in growing their crops, increasing yields while decreasing the size of their environmental footprint.
“U.S. soybean farmers aren’t just raising a crop for economic gain,” says Nancy Kavazanjian, a checkoff farmer-leader from Beaver Dam, Wis. “Like all American farmers, we care so much for our land and we’re in it for the long term. So many of us have inherited our land and want to pass it down to our children. Everything we do is centered on making the land better.”
More than 95 percent of U.S. soybean farmers participate in farm programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And through the use of sustainable-farming practices, U.S. soybean farmers have decreased energy use and greenhouse-gas emissions by more than 45 percent since 1980, and increased irrigation efficiency by more than 40 percent since 1980.
Thanks in part to American farmers, the United States enjoys the most abundant, affordable and safe food supply in the world. And many countries beyond U.S. borders enjoy the bounty of U.S. soybean farmers’ annual crop, as well. Both domestically and internationally, the food industry uses the majority of U.S. soybean oil to bake and fry food. And animal agriculture accounts for 97 percent of U.S. soybean meal consumption, using it in feed for the chickens, swine, fish and other animals that contribute to our food supply.
The 70 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.