Directors and staff from the Illinois Soybean Growers (ISG) recently joined forces with the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) in responding to growing international interest in soybean sustainability. The groups met with key customers in Mexico City and Guadalajara, Mexico, last week to answer questions, share Illinois farming practices and help maintain market access for U.S. soybeans.
ISG and USSEC officials met with more than 250 people, including representatives from nonprofit organizations and governmental bodies, feed manufacturers, livestock producer associations and oilseed crushers. The groups represent more than 90 percent of the soybean, meal and oil used in Mexico, accounting for more than $2 billion in U.S. soy exports annually.
According to USDA, in the 2012-13 marketing year, Mexico imported more than four million metric tons (MMT) of U.S. soy. This included 2.68 MMT of soybeans, 1.294 MMT of soybean meal and 0.187 MMT of soybean oil. An estimated 95 percent of Mexican soybean imports come from the United States.
“We are working to promote best practices in the soybean market and around the world,” says John Longley, soybean farmer from Aledo, Ill., and ISG director who participated in the trip. “ISG recognizes the demand for sustainable crops in Mexico and aims to support the key customers who buy our soybeans.”
Longley adds that ISG is focused on improving productivity while working to protect the environment and benefit the community.
“U.S. soybean farmers are stewards of the land. We are proud to show the rest of the world and our customers what we are doing to preserve our environment for generations to come,” says Dwain Ford, Kinmundy, Ill., farmer and USSEC board member. “We know our customers demand sustainably sourced products and we strive to be global leaders in sustainability.”
Over the past 30 years, Illinois soybean farmers have decreased land use per bushel and energy use per acre, reduced soil erosion by 90 percent, and worked with nonprofit organizations to conserve natural resources, according to information from the United Soybean Board and Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture.
“Sustainability is about constant improvement, and Illinois growers have improved environmental efficiency while increasing production by almost 50 percent,” adds Jeff Lynn, an ISG director who farms in Oakford, Ill., and trip participant. “We are using less energy and less land to produce more soybeans.”