Soy Leaders Roll Out Vision for 2020

Industry strives to align broad segments of its supply chain to tackle future food, fuel challenges.

Driven by the daunting task of feeding and fueling an ever growing world population, the U.S. soybean industry is taking steps to create a more clearer picture of the challenges its supply chain will face in future years.  

United Soybean Board officials, along with key agribusiness supporters from John Deere and Monsanto, introduced the "Soy 2020" visioning project at the Commodity Classic held this week in Tampa, Fla. The project's goal is to help knit the industry together to better handle whatever challenges the future holds.

"It's designed to establish strategies to optimize the United States soybean value chain, regardless of what the future holds," says Don Borgman, director of Agricultural industry Relations for John Deere's North American operation. "It's not about predicting the future; it's about envisioning several possible futures and then making recommendations as to how that entire value chain can be successful in whatever environment comes forward."

Borgman

The vision is based on four points:

  • Strive for economic sustainability and global leadership through innovation, adoption and delivery of soy production and trait technologies;
  • Create a wide variety of output choices for food, feed, fuel and other outputs; and increase demand for soy by promoting benefits;
  • Take an environmentally responsible leadership role to ensure a secure, safe, sustainable and abundant global food supply; and
  • Enable success of all soybean sectors and prepare to work in a coordinated leadership capacity through any situation the future may hold for U.S. soy.

Short-term concerns

While the Soy 2020 is a long-term strategic plan, short-term challenges played at least some role in its formation.

"Changes in the world are happening very rapidly," notes USB Chairman Eric Niemann, a farmer from Nortonville, Kan. "Changes really impacting us now are biofuels and how that relates to soybeans and corn. That is happening very rapidly and its affecting our acreage and production."

Borgman agrees. "Right now we're looking at yield; we've been at a point where (soybean) yield is not going up the way other crops have been, so we're encouraging industry to develop solutions. The other issue right now is competition for soy acres."

Hungry mouths to feed

Longer-term, soybean leaders are taking a hard look at world population growth and ways to align their industry in the most efficient way to respond to those challenges.

"By the year 2020 there's a projection of about 8 billion people in the world, up from around 6.6 billion today," says Borgman. "Over 90% of that growth will come from developing countries. That's one very significant increase in demand for food and energy."

USB is receiving financial support for the visioning process from Monsanto, Deere and Company, the National Oilseed Processors Association and Farm Credit Council.

"The critical factor that has been identified is the need to work together as an industry," says Ernesto Fajardo, Vice President of U.S. Crop Business for Monsanto. "That's a critical change. We all have to work together to get to the right place. We couldn't have just one company, or one processor go in one direction, we all had to get together and find out what are the adjustments we need to make going forward."

You can learn more at the project's website: www.soy2020vision.com.

TAGS: Soybean
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