Grain News

Illinois Soybean Assn. Issues White Paper to Help Producers Protect Profits and Market Share

Date Posted: January 9, 2013

Bloomington, IL—The downward trend in soybean protein and oil levels continues in Illinois and across the United States, even after years of efforts to raise awareness about the importance of soybean composition.

The trend contributes to lower elevator prices and declining Illinois soybean market share, as buyers seek greater value elsewhere.

The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA), with funding from the soybean checkoff, recently published a white paper to help Illinois soybean farmers understand how planting soybean varieties with greater protein and oil levels in mind can protect their profits and market share.

The white paper -- "Looking Beyond Soybean Yields" -- combines soybean checkoff research results, input from customers throughout the value chain and years of soybean component data.

The goal is to help farmers capture the benefits of higher protein and oil, and reverse the hidden discounts farmers suffer at the elevator due to declining soybean component levels.

"Soybean quality has been studied for more than 30 years, but the industry has lacked a unified approach to address customer needs," says Rowen Ziegler, soybean farmer from LaHarpe, Ill., and ISA Production Committee chairman.

"With Brazilian production ramping up every year, we face a real challenge to maintain our global market share and satisfy customers."

In fact, USDA found that even though the volume of U.S. soybean exports is increasing, global market share fell 26 percent between 1991 and 2012 (see graphic).

"Looking Beyond Soybean Yields" is part of a greater campaign ISA has initiated to inform the industry about losing market share to South America due to lagging protein and oil content.

The paper also includes charts, graphs and visuals to illustrate why farmers should strive to increase component quality, and steps they can take to improve the content of their soybeans.

According to Dan Davidson, Ph.D., ISA's director of strategic research, fixing the disconnect between down-trending protein and oil levels in Illinois and the levels customers demand begins with unifying the definition of "quality."

Davidson suggests that definition is high-yielding soybean varieties that also meet the industry standard of 35 percent protein and 19 percent oil.

Davidson says growing soybean varieties with such values in mind will satisfy livestock nutritionists and producers, who want high protein and amino acid levels for livestock feeds, as well as crushers, a main customer of soybean oil.

"Delivering a quality product is as important for soybeans as it is for any other product, and to do that we have to look at component levels," says Bill Raben, soybean farmer from Ridgway, Ill., and ISA vice chairman.

"It is up to us as soybean farmers to deliver the product that best meets our customers' needs for protein and oil, or someone else will."

The white paper is available online.

Hard copies are available through the ISA office.

For more information, call 309-808-3610.

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