ST. LOUIS -- All businesses look out for their No. 1 customer, and soybean farmers are no different. Livestock and poultry are soybean farmers' number one customer, consuming the majority of the soybean meal produced in the United States. That's why the soybean checkoff has made it a priority to support animal agriculture and help soybean farmers speak out for the livestock and poultry industries.

To help support the business climate of livestock production, the farmer-leaders of the soybean checkoff developed two new tools to provide accurate, fact-based information on livestock production. The first tool is a Web site found at

The Web site provides information on the economic impact of animal agriculture on local and state communities, environmental regulation information and contacts for animal agriculture and animal welfare experts. The site includes quizzes, surveys and state-specific maps to guide visitors quickly through a large amount of materials. The Web site also houses information and links from industry organizations that help support animal agriculture.

"The Web site will serve as an educational tool to show how livestock and poultry are beneficial, not just to soybean farmers, but to their local and state communities as well," says Phil Bradshaw, United Soybean Board Animal Agriculture Initiative team lead and a soybean farmer from Griggsville, Ill.

Checkoff provides animal agriculture info kit

This compilation of information is covered on the Web site and in the second tool for soybean producers, which is a complete animal agriculture information kit. The kit includes hard copies of materials developed to support animal agriculture, such as fact sheets covering animal welfare, nutritional information, manure management practices and general animal agriculture information. These kits will be provided to key industry influencers to use as they continue to support animal agriculture

Many people do not fully understand the huge economic contribution of livestock and poultry production on the U.S. and local economies. In 2004, the livestock and poultry industries accounted for $396 billion in economic output in the United States. In addition, animal agriculture accounted for over 2.5 million jobs in 2004 and contributed greatly to state and local tax base. In 2004, the livestock and poultry industries accounted for nearly $17 billion in income and sales tax and over $2 billion in property taxes

"If our No. 1 customers can't succeed and thrive, neither can soybean farmers," says Bradshaw. "That's why the farmer-leaders of the soybean checkoff have created the Web site and tool kit to allow producers to promote animal agriculture."

USB is made up of 64 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 Customer Information Act, USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff.

SOURCE: USB news release.