ST. LOUIS -- The United Soybean Board and soybean checkoff announce the organization of a second annual See for Yourself tour. The first tour last summer was a huge success in getting United States soybean farmers acquainted with the operation of their checkoff program.
"I really believe last year's tour made a real positive impact on the participants," said Jim Stillman, a soybean farmer from Emmetsburg, Iowa, and chair of the USB Audit & Evaluation Committee, which sponsors the tour. "It made them aware of the broad scope the checkoff has."
USB is looking for 10 soybean farmers who have little to no hands-on experience with soybean checkoff programs to take this year's tour from July 13-18. Those who are interested can fill out an application at the official soybean checkoff Web site unitedsoybean.org. Applications must be received by March 20. USB will also invite a limited number of media members to participate in the tour.
The tour offers an excellent opportunity for soybean farmers to interact with USB leadership, ask questions and provide their perspective on the checkoff.
The tour will start in St. Louis, where participants will hear from the USB chairman, CEO and executive director, as well as representatives of every USB committee about how checkoff dollars are invested to increase demand for U.S. soybeans.
After two days in St. Louis, the delegation heads to Mexico, which trails only China for importing U.S. soybeans and is second to none in soybean meal imports.
According to Stillman, who was on last year's tour and will accompany the group again this year, the itinerary will lend itself well to farmers seeing the fruits of their checkoff's labor.
"Going to Mexico is well worth it," Stillman said. "This tour provides these farmers a look at several areas the checkoff is focusing on, including biodiesel, new uses, animal agriculture and international marketing."
While on the trip, participants will tour several facilities that represent various end users of U.S. soybeans, including:
Bill Manville, a soybean, corn and wheat farmer from Winchester, Kan., made the trip last summer and says it's a satisfying learning experience.
"I wish every farmer had the opportunity to participate in a checkoff project like this," Manville said. "It's an amazing experience to see how crop production impacts so many people. In Mexico, the people looked at us like we were heroes. As a farmer, it was very gratifying to see."
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.