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Soybean farmers streamline export efforts

Agriculture.com Staff 03/05/2010 @ 10:32am

The United Soybean Board hopes to get more efficient use from checkoff funds used to export soybeans. At the Commodity Classic in Anaheim, California, Friday, its leaders outlined how reorganization of the U.S. Soybean Export Council will help target new uses for soybeans such as aquaculture and new opportunities, such as the drought in Argentina a year ago that helped boost American bean shipments to a record 1.56 billion bushels.

U.S. soybean exports have more than doubled in the 20 years that the checkoff has been supporting export promotion, said Phil Bradshaw, a Griggsville, Illinois soybean grower who is chairman of the United Soybean Board (USB).

"We've come a long way in 20 years but with the demands facing our industry, the next 20 years wll be more important and more exciting," Bradshaw said.

The United Nations projects a need for 50% more soybeans in the next 20 years and in the short run, the Obama administration is pledging stronger efforts to promote exports of American farm products as one way of creating more jobs in this country.

The USB has renewed its contract with the Export Council, or USSEC, but it will be a leaner, more effective organization than the one that led to allegations of misuse of funds and, in late 2008, calls for a USDA investigation.

USSEC is making changes that will save an estimated $5.2 million in annual administrative costs, out of a total budget of about $30 million.

USSEC is cutting the size of its board from 19 to 15, consolidating its international management areas from nine to three, and will be sharing more offices with similar export promotion organizations or exporting companies.

Jim Call, a soybean farmer from Madison, Minnesota who heads USB’s international marketing efforts, said that USSEC will still have the same number of people working with importing nations.

And, Call said, USSEC will work more closely with exporting companies such as ADM and Cargill.

The new export efforts will target specific end uses, too, including human food products, livestock feed, aquaculture and industrial uses.

The United Soybean Board hopes to get more efficient use from checkoff funds used to export soybeans. At the Commodity Classic in Anaheim, California, Friday, its leaders outlined how reorganization of the U.S. Soybean Export Council will help target new uses for soybeans such as aquaculture and new opportunities, such as the drought in Argentina a year ago that helped boost American bean shipments to a record 1.56 billion bushels.

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