More than 7 billion people inhabit planet Earth, and about 2 billion more will join within 40 years, according to the United Nations Population Division. While many decision makers express concern about sustaining the population, often they forget to ask an important question: Are U.S. farmers ready to produce the food needed to feed the growing population?
The United Soybean Board (USB) and soybean checkoff has responded with a resounding ‘yes,’ by funding soybean production research designed to help U.S. farmers grow as much as possible with as few resources needed.
“Soybean farmers must stay in tune with what is going on in the U.S. in order to stay ahead of any problems, such as the growing population,” says Jason Bean, a soybean farmer from Holcomb, MO, and USB director. “Finding ways to figure out how to get everything out of our soybeans in order to have the best yield is crucial for success.”
In order to stay ahead of the curve, much of the research USB funds focuses on creating new U.S. soybean varieties more resistant to the pressures from pests and diseases that decrease yield. “Every year, we do a major production research project in each region that allows us to figure out the No. 1 yield robber,” says Bean. “Whether it is finding out how to resist pests, like aphids, stink bugs or soybean cyst nematodes, or determining drought tolerance, checkoff-funded research is intended to locate the problem, and then is shared with farmers across the U.S.”
To help get this research into farmers’ hands, USB has established a program to help state soybean checkoff boards, land-grant universities and local Extension service staff share checkoff-funded research results with those who need it most. To date, 12 states participate in the program.
But informing U.S. soybean farmers is only one part of the equation. Making sure consumers are informed about the process is important too, says Bean.