The soybean industry truly has reason to celebrate — actually 19 reasons. That's how many new products were introduced to the market this year with support from the soybean checkoff.

From new soy-based plastic resins used in vacuum bags, to a biodegradable sunscreen derived from soybean oil to sheet molding compounds made with soy and used for new tractor hoods, the diverse new uses for soybeans continue to grow.

The burgeoning support for the little beige bean is thanks in part to the efforts of state soybean associations and councils for their role in working with checkoff dollars to research and create awareness for new soy uses and products.

INNOVATIVE IDEAS

Events like “Soy Day” sponsored by the Iowa Soybean Association at the Iowa State Fair help get the word out on the varied uses and environmental attributes of soy-based products. During the event, educational materials, soy-product samples and soy foods were offered to fair-goers.

Iowa also took its soy promotion efforts on the road for the second year with the Soy Biodiesel Bus — a white bus with giant soybeans painted on the sides. The bus travels the state, making stops to educate school children and community leaders about the benefits of using renewable soy biodiesel. Sunny the Soybean also hands out soy nuts and T-shirts during the presentation.

In Indiana, soybean farmers are joining forces with Governor Mitch Daniels and the Indiana State Department of Agriculture to turn the small community of Reynolds into a town of the future. The “BioTown” project will convert the town's homes and businesses to renewable sources of energy, including modified soybean oil to be used as home heating oil and switching county equipment over to biodiesel.

“This is a great project to demonstrate to the nation that alternative energy from the farm can help fuel our country,” says Jim Schriver, a corn and soybean farmer from Wells County and president of the Indiana Soybean Board.

“Thank A Chicken” is the name of a campaign and Web site (www.thankachicken.com) the Delaware and Maryland Soybean Boards used this summer with a grant from the United Soybean Board. The promotion was geared toward raising awareness of the important role animal agriculture provides as a market for soybeans. Nationally, more than 94% of domestic soybean meal is consumed by animal agriculture.

Billboards, ads and special event promotions like the Delmarva Chicken Festival in June, the Shorebirds' Perdue Stadium Ag Day and the Delaware State Fair in July, were all designed to get people's attention focused on the ag industry's benefits to the region.

CELEBRITY STATUS

Soy-based products are even making headlines with celebrities. Country music singer Willie Nelson has been a long time supporter of agriculture through Farm Aid concerts, and he has also become a biodiesel advocate. Pure biodiesel (B100) was used to power all of the generators and buses and the 2005 Farm Aid concert held near Chicago. And the singer's newly formed company, Willie Nelson Biodiesel, has opened several pumps at truck stops nationwide. The pumps carry B20, a mixture of 20% biodiesel and 80% diesel.

In June 2005 Nelson was on hand at Spinx Co. filling station in Greer, SC, to announce the first truck stop on the Eastern Seaboard to offer biodiesel to truck drivers and other motorists. Truck stops from Miami, FL, to Rochester, NY, will eventually carry B20.

Nelson will also be appearing at the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo, Feb. 5-8 in San Diego to promote the renewable fuel through a live broadcast of the Bill Mack trucking show on XM Radio.

Additionally, musician Bonnie Raitt is bringing celebrity status to soybeans. During her current Souls Alike Tour, she is fueling her two diesel-powered buses and two semis with B20. Raitt has helped promote biodiesel since 2002 and has said, “By using B20 on my tour, we are reducing pollution and putting a dent in imported petroleum.”

In December 2005, Raitt hosted a special dessert reception after her show in Knoxville, TN, with the proceeds earmarked to benefit biodiesel education programs in Tennessee through the East Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition and the Tennessee Soybean Promotion Board.

The growing soybean biofuel industry was also spotlighted on episodes of America's Heartland, a new weekly public television series, hosted by Paul Ryan and celebrating agriculture. The program featured the versatility of America's third largest crop and the fact that soybeans aren't just for the dinner table anymore. “Soy has long been used as an ingredient in ink and paint and now it's an alternative fuel to power cars, trucks and other vehicles,” Ryan said in introducing the episode.

SOYFOODS FESTIVITIES

The growing success of soyfoods can be celebrated year-round, but a special promotion for these healthy alternatives is staged each April during Soyfoods Month.

Previous checkoff-funded research has acknowledged soy's role in the prevention of heart disease and that soy may help prevent osteoporosis and breast and prostate cancers. Most recently, health professionals agree that soyfoods can be an important part of a healthy diet and potentially part of the solution to obesity.

As part of the continued effort to enhance soybean quality traits to meet the needs of end users, a coalition of farmers, technology companies, scientists, processors and end users has established QUALISOY. This collaboration is aimed at bringing healthier, more functional products to the marketplace, especially through enhanced oil and meal products.

One success story thus far is the development of low-linolenic soybean oil for the marketplace. Better bean varieties like these are being supported by the food industry as an alternative to reduce or eliminate trans fatty acids in a number of products. The FDA now requires food manufacturers to report the amount of trans fat in food products on nutrition labels.

NINETEEN NEWCOMERS

The 19 new soy-based products making their debut in the marketplace during the past year include:

PLASTICS

  • Four forms of ENVIREZ, a thermoset polyester resin, have been formulated for applications ranging from the vacuum bag process to a sheet-molding compound for new model tractor hoods.

  • AGROL products are being created with flexible to rigid functionalities.

  • SOYOL products (R2-052 and R3-170) that offer specific viscosities, reduced acid and/or reduced odor.

LUBRICANTS

  • ENVIROTEMP FR-3 is an electric power transformer fluid.

SPECIALTY PRODUCTS

  • ACTIVATE — a methyl soyate asphalt millings activator.

  • EOS — an emulsified soy oil for bioremediation or groundwater cleanup.

  • PURRGE 200 — methyl soyate recycled paper pulp cleaner.

  • REPLAY — methyl soyate pavement restorer.

  • SOYFAST — methyl soyate general-purpose cleaner concentrate.

  • SOYGREEN 5000 and 6000 and SOY STOP — methyl soyate parts cleaner concentrate, adhesive remover, and graffiti remover system.

COATINGS/PRINTING INKS

  • AGRO SEAL — soy-based caulking compound.

  • Soy-based wear and crease resistant coating for textiles.

  • ELMS Natural Metal Jacket — soy-based metal coating.

ADHESIVES

  • Soy flour with KYMENE as a paste resin for making plywood.