By TIM ALEXANDER
PEORIA, Ill. — Crop scientists note declining levels of soybean oil and protein in crops produced by U.S. farmers is a trend that must be reversed in order to remain competitive in the global agricultural marketplace.
To bring further awareness to that issue, the Illinois Soybean Assoc. (ISA) is spreading the word to all farmers, regardless of membership status, that steps can and must be taken to increase content and help maintain the American farmer’s global trade advantage.
“In order to stay competitive in the global marketplace, farmers need to pay attention to this issue,” said the ISA’s Mark Ingbritson, who co-hosted an ISA informational booth focusing on soybean oil and protein levels at the 2013 Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Assoc. Conference and Trade Show in Peoria.
“That’s why ISA is trying to educate farmers, as well as processors and elevator operators, while looking at solutions.”
Ingbritson’s boothmate, ISA District 10 Director Jered Hooker, said the outreach and education effort is directed at all Illinois soybean producers and will come up during a March 4 ISA summit on increasing profitability (see related article) in Normal.
“This is our effort as an organization to help bring up contents and amino acid levels, which have been on the decline for quite awhile,” he said. “It’s been a struggle to develop yields. We’re going to have to have more research and technology to bring us up to where are beans are competitive with the South Americans.”
The ISA recently published a checkoff-funded “white paper” on the topic of declining oil and protein levels, Looking Beyond Soybean Yields, which turns a spotlight on the decline of U.S. soybean export market share by 26 percent from 1991-2012. According to the document, producers should strive for high-yielding soybean varieties that also meet the industry standard of 35 percent protein and 19 percent oil content.
The value of oil and protein levels is documented through a measurement called Estimated Processed Value (EPV), or “crush” value. The greater the EPV, the more valuable the soybeans are to processors. Conversely, lower-value soybeans hurt profitability and overall market share.
“One key takeaway is for farmers to realize that protein and oil have been declining, but there are varieties available today that will give you the high yields they are looking for, with high oil and protein,” said Ingbritson, an account supervisor for integrated marketing company Charleston/ Orwig.
Hooker added, farmers can obtain information on oil and protein levels in the products they purchase from their seed dealer or from the University of Illinois soybean laboratory. In addition to seeking varieties that produce higher levels of oil and protein, other factors affecting levels could include soil type, crop rotation and weather patterns, according to Hooker.
“Everything that’s involved in growing (can be a factor),” he said.
According to ISA’s staff director of Strategic Research Programs, Dan Davidson, growers should check for premium programs in their areas at the website www.soybeanpremiums.org to determine if there are any elevator-processor relationships nearby who will buy their grain at a premium. He also recommends the website www.vipsoy beans.org for locating dealers and brands with high oil and protein.
In addition, he said spreading the word to other soybean farmers about the importance of increasing the value of soybeans as a commodity is key to bringing awareness of the issue to producers everywhere.
For questions regarding soybean profitability, Davidson can be reached at 309-808-3614 or via e-mail at DavidsonD@ilsoy.org