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Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board

Soy News June 2000

USDA Announces Results of Soybean Checkoff Request for Referendum

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that it will not conduct a referendum on the Soybean Promotion and Research Program (soybean checkoff). USDA received 17,970 signed request for referendum forms, or just less than three percent of the 600,813 eligible producers at county Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices. Had 10 percent of the eligible producers — with no more than one-fifth of the 10 percent coming from any one state — requested a referendum, the Secretary of Agriculture would have conducted the referendum within 12 months.

The request for referendum determined whether U.S. soybean producers wanted a referendum on the Soybean Promotion and Research Program. USDA selected a request period for a soybean checkoff referendum from Oct. 20, 1999, to Nov. 16, 1999. The Soybean Promotion, Research, and Consumer Information Act requires that the Secretary of Agriculture provide soybean producers the opportunity to request a referendum every five years.

"With this result, U.S. soybean farmers have validated their support for the soybean checkoff," says USB Chairman Don Latham, a soybean farmer from Alexander, Iowa. "The soybean checkoff will strive to continue improving U.S. soybean farmers' profit opportunities by investing in programs aimed at increasing global utilization of U.S. soybeans, developing new soybean uses and conducting valuable production research."

Following the request for referendum period, the county Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices had to submit a report to their respective state FSA offices by Dec. 16, 1999. The state FSA had to submit a report summarizing the county reports to the FSA administrator by Dec. 20, 1999. The FSA administrator then submitted a state summary report to the administrator of the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), the agency of USDA that oversees commodity marketing activities. USDA/AMS tabulated the results, which were released publicly on May 11.

Producers certifying that they produced soybeans at any time during a period beginning Jan. 1, 1997, and ending Nov. 16, 1999, were eligible to participate in the petition for a referendum. An eligible producer, as defined by the USDA, was any person engaged in the growing of soybeans in the United States who owned or shared ownership and risk of loss of such soybeans. Eligible individuals not wanting a referendum did not need to take any action.

AMS issued two press releases on the soybean checkoff request for referendum. FSA distributed a press release to county offices and encouraged the county offices to publicize the request for referendum in newsletters, electronic media, newspapers and radio or television.

USB placed a request for referendum notification in five national agricultural publications, 11 regional agricultural publications and 19 state agricultural publications. USB also distributed the notification to all Qualified State Soybean Boards and agricultural news media, and published it in the monthly ASA Today newsletter and the semimonthly USB newsletter SoyLine.

USB is made up of 62 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers.

Checkoff Organizes Proposal for USDA Grant

In an effort to leverage soybean checkoff investments with federal research dollars, the United Soybean Board is coordinating the submission of proposals for a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant under the Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems (IFAFS). IFAFS is a new $120 million program aimed at addressing some of the most critical issues facing American agriculture. IFAFS will fund competitive research, education and extension grants that focus on production agriculture, natural resource management and consumer issues.

The Initiative's priorities include: precision agriculture, natural resources management and pest management; agricultural genomics and biotechnology risk assessment; food safety and the role of nutrition in health; new uses for agricultural products, including biomass fuel sources; and farm efficiency and profitability, with an emphasis on small and mid-size farms.

"During the past year, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of precision agriculture research proposals submitted to USB," says USB Production Chair Jay Franklin, a soybean farmer from Vinita, Oklahoma. "The checkoff has identified a need for greater coordination between existing checkoff-funded projects to increase efficiency, stimulate cooperation and eliminate the possibility of unnecessary duplication."

USB sponsored a precision agriculture workshop in April to discuss proposals that will be submitted for IFAFS funding. The workshop included checkoff-funded university researchers, state soybean boards involved in production research, and research consultants. One consortia proposal and several standard proposals will be submitted from checkoff-funded researchers. All proposals will fall under a checkoff-endorsed umbrella proposal establishing formal links between the proposals in such areas as remote sensing, technology transfer and decision support systems. A consortia grant request can be made for between $1 million and $5 million for up to four years. A standard grant request can be made for up to $1 million for four years. If USDA selects any of the proposals submitted, it is possible that a significant portion of the funding for current checkoff precision agriculture research projects would be transferred to USDA for the period of the grant. USB conducts precision agriculture research to help U.S. soybean farmers lower input costs and address environmental issues by reducing applications of fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides.

Soy Ink Use Increases

In just 10 years, soy ink's U.S. market share has quadrupled from less than 5 percent in 1989 to 22.5 percent, which is equal to the oil from more than 9 million bushels of soybeans. There is still room for growth. According to the checkoff-funded National Soy Ink Information Center, soy ink will consume more than 40 million bushels of soybeans annually when it reaches its full potential.

Not only is soy ink use growing in the United States, it is also gaining popularity in Asia. The Japanese market's growth in 1999 alone is estimated at 330 percent, or a total of 681,000 bushels of soybeans used to make ink. Japan's usage of soy ink is expected to increase another 300 percent in 2000. Currently there are 23 ink manufacturing companies producing soy ink in Japan.

Better Bean Initiative Action Plan Approved

The United Soybean Board's Better Bean Initiative (BBI) core team committee has adopted a strategic plan to establish the fundamental direction and intent of BBI. The mission of the checkoff-funded BBI is to accelerate the development and availability of soybean seed with enhanced compositional traits that will better position U.S. soybeans to meet the needs of oil and protein end-users and enhance economic value for U.S. soybean farmers.

The BBI strategic goal for U.S. soybean oil is to accelerate development and commercialization of soybean germ-plasm with superior oil attributes for human health and food quality.
The three key target areas for enhancing U.S. soybean oil are:

  • to identify traits that reduce the amount of saturated fat to improve soybean oil's nutritional value;
  • to reduce the amount of linolenic acid in U.S. soybeans to better stabilize its flavor in foods; and
  • to increase the oleic acid content in soybeans, which would reduce the need to add hydrogen to soybean oil, thereby creating a more flexible ingredient for food manufacturers.

U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers with the Agricultural Research Service at North Carolina State University have already taken a positive step to attain two of the targets. The researchers recently announced the development of a soybean variety low in saturated fat and linolenic acid. Called Soyola, the new variety can reduce the saturated fat in soybean oil and eliminate the need for hydrogenation, which causes trans-fatty acids. According to USB, achieving the target areas of BBI will better position U.S. soybean oil to compete in the vegetable oil market.

The BBI strategic goal for U.S. soybean meal is to accelerate development and commercialization of soybean germplasm with superior meal attributes by increasing the levels of essential amino acids and their balance, and by improving digestibility of meal to enhance feeding efficiency and to reduce environmental impacts of livestock and poultry production. The three target areas for enhancing U.S. soybean meal are:

  • to increase key amino acid characteristics, particularly with methionine and lysine;
  • to increase digestible phosphorus; and
  • to increase metabolized energy.

A growing number of livestock and poultry producers are using synthetic amino acids, rather than U.S. soybean meal, to boost animal nutrition. The development of other specialty or identity-preserved grains could also cut into the U.S. soybean meal market share. U.S. soybean meal is the most readily available and cost-effective source of supplemental protein used by the livestock and poultry industries. According to USB, the targeted soybean meal improvements will allow U.S. soybean farmers to have a competitive advantage over other soybean-producing countries.

Soy-Based Wood Adhesive Receives Structural Approval

The Western Wood Products Association (WPPA) has approved a soy-based wood adhesive, developed through checkoff-funded research, for vertical and horizontal use. Called PRF/Soy 2000, the adhesive is used in a process to bond finger-jointed wood to form longer, stronger lumber. Testing by the American Society of Testing Material has shown that the soy-based adhesive is stronger than the standard white glue and some melamines and is just as strong as petroleum or synthetic-based resins. According to USB the potential market for soy-based wood adhesives is 158 million bushels. In addition, they offer environmental benefits and application advantages over adhesives made completely of from other resins.

1999-2000 Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board:
Art Simpson, Marked Tree, Chair
David Walt, Dumas, Vice Chair
Mary Ratcliffe, Sweet Home, Secretary/Treasurer
Bobby Crow, Dardanelle; David Feilke, Stuttgart; Jerry Ford*, Lake Village; Thad Freeland, Tillar; Richard "Dick" Howard*, Clarkedale; Roger Pohlner, Fisher.

* Designates representatives on the United Soybean Board

Staffing provided by Warren Carter, Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation. For questions about any information in this newsletter or for more information on board-funded programs, please contact any of the above board members, call 501-228-1238, or write Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board, P. O. Box 31, Little Rock, AR 72203.

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For additional information about any board-related activity contact:

Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board
ATTN: Warren Carter
P.O. Box 31
Little Rock, AR 72203-0031
Phone: 501-228-1265

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