Domestic animal agriculture remains the largest consumer of U.S. soybeans, accounting for about 98 percent of the domestic supply of U.S. soybean meal.
Because soybean meal makes up a significant portion of animal feed, the United Soybean Board (USB) and soybean checkoff work to maintain domestic demand for U.S. soybeans by supporting organizations such as the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). In 2010, this support helped the U.S. livestock industry achieve strong export numbers for U.S. pork and beef, according to USMEF.
“The downturn in the economy has lowered the consumption of meat in the United States,” explains Jim Schriver, soybean farmer from Montpelier, Ind., and chair of the USB domestic marketing program. “We, as the soybean industry, feel the responsibility to help our No. 1 customer, animal agriculture, move the meat offshore. We do this through our alliances and significant soybean checkoff funding with organizations such as USMEF.”
Consumption of meat dropped one pound per person in the United States in 2010 according to the Livestock Marketing Information Center. Meat exports bolster U.S. animal agriculture when domestic demand is down. With $4.08 billion of beef exported during the year, 2010 proved to be a record year. USMEF helped increase beef exports in many regions, including Canada, the European Union, the Middle East, Japan, Russia and Southeast Asia.
Pork posted record numbers
U.S. pork exports posted record numbers in Japan and Mexico, contributing to a total of $4.78 billion worth of pork exports in 2010, the second-highest amount ever. USMEF predicts that there’s still room for U.S. pork exports to grow in these countries and others.
“In 2008, there was an over-supply of domestic pork and not enough cold storage to handle the supply,” adds Schriver. “The soybean checkoff, working with state soybean boards and USMEF, created a surge plan to export excess pork backs to Japan. The benefits of this program, which is still active today, are evident in these recent export numbers.”
A healthy domestic animal agriculture sector contributes to the U.S. economy, in addition to maintaining demand for U.S. soy. According to a checkoff-funded study, in 2009 U.S. animal agriculture employed more than 1.8 million Americans and contributed more than $16 billion in income and property tax revenue.
USB is made up of 69 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.
For more information on the United Soybean Board, visit us at http://www.UnitedSoybean.org.