Imagine keeping tabs on the soybean harvest in Brazil's Savannah region before finalizing your own cropping plans.

That's not as far from reality as you might think. Soybeans are truly a global crop, and their importance is growing faster outside the U.S. than within it. As we enter the next century, what you grow and the prices you receive will increasingly depend on what happens outside our borders.

Today, the U.S. accounts for nearly half of the world's soybean production, and roughly one of every two bushels is exported. But Brazil and Argentina have emerged as tough competitors, and Brazil's expansion potential is awesome. As more acreage is brought into production there, world demand and prices will be impacted. Your planting decisions each year will be influenced by the size of Brazil's crop.

Most market growth is happening elsewhere, too - in developing countries with growing populations and rising per capita incomes. The U.S. must capture a share of that growing demand - in the face of stiffer competition - to bring prices back up to profitable levels.

It won't be easy, but it's a challenge that can be met. To succeed, says Doug Magnus, chairman of the United Soybean Board's international marketing committee, growers must continue to improve the quality and consistency of their exported product. And they must improve the infrastructure - the river system and railroads - to move grain to ports more efficiently.

"It's absolutely key that we communicate as closely as possible with our buyers," says Magnus, who believes U.S. producers need to deliver the product those buyers want.

Global Soy Forum '99

If you want a chance to communicate with your foreign neighbors, plug into some of the world's best research at the upcoming Global Soy Forum '99, to be held in Chicago Aug. 4-7.

You'll have a golden opportunity to meet growers, buyers, processors and researchers from around the world.

This unique meeting incorporates the events of the World Soybean Research Conference, the Midwest Soybean Conference and the Soy in Animal Nutrition Symposium.

In this special issue you'll get a glimpse of that worldwide research. Like the Forum, we've divided it into five subject areas: Genetic Improvement, Crop & Soil Management, Pest Management, Processing & Utilization, and Management & Marketing.

For an in-depth look at the entire conference proceedings, and to register online, check out the Global Soy Forum '99 Internet site (www.ag.uiuc.edu). Or, contact the Global Soy Forum '99 directly at 1101 West Peabody, Room 165, Urbana, IL 61801; phone 217-244-7384; fax 217-244-1707; e-mail gsf99@uiuc. edu. Also, see the mail-in card in this issue between pages 6 and 7.