United Soybean Board introduces sustainability assurance

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New interactive presentations developed by the United Soybean Board (USB) help educate soybean farmers on how the management systems they are using can meet the sustainability expectations of international customers.

The interactive presentations, which highlight the U.S. Soybean Sustainability Assurance Protocol, are being introduced for the first time at the Farm Progress Show taking place in Decatur, Ill., this week.

U.S. soy exporters will be able to go to a website starting this fall and get an actual certificate of sustainability for the amount of soy they want to export. The certificate will confirm that the U.S. soy was produced with sustainable farming practices for international customers.

Measurement of sustainability is based on analysis of existing data that the National Agricultural Statistics Service and other agencies collect regularly from U.S. soybean farmers. The Soybean Sustainability Assurance Protocol contains no additional requirements or demands of U.S. farmers.

Following Farm Progress, USB will post the presentations on its own website and make them available to other organizations to ensure soybean farmers understand the U.S. Soybean Sustainability Assurance Protocol.

The U.S. soy family, consisting of the American Soybean Association, U.S. Soybean Export Council, USB and state soybean boards, has developed the U.S. Soybean Sustainability Assurance Protocol to help define and document sustainable performance in soybean production for international customers.

The protocol covers four key components of U.S. sustainable soy production: sound environmental objectives, social responsibility, promoting economic growth and continuous improvement in technology and cultural practices. The protocol also addresses how sustainable performance by U.S. soybean farmers is measured and verified by various government programs.

Through the protocol, the farmers who run the nation's 279,110 soybean farms pledge they are committed to ensuring that U.S. soybeans continue to be produced in a sustainable manner.

Doug Winter, a USB director and soybean farmer from Mill Shoals, Ill., says the organization not only wants international customers to be aware of the sustainable performance of U.S. soybean farmers, but also for farmers to know that the Soybean Sustainability Assurance Protocol provides a competitive advantage for U.S. soy.

"I know in my part of the country, and from talking to other farmers around the country, 90 percent of the farmers are probably doing 90 percent of the practices and things that are in the protocol," he says.

"In addition to protecting farmers' freedom to operate, the protocol ensures that global demand and acceptance for our product will remain strong. It is a promise that U.S. farmers can keep, because we are committed to responsible production and continuous improvement."

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.

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