The U.S. soy industry’s relationship with its third-largest importer of whole soybeans had a close call this summer.  One small shipment of U.S. soybeans was found to carry residue of a fungicide, at a level higher than allowed by Japanese law.

Luckily, United Soybean Board (USB) partners in Japan had a full agricultural chemical residue analysis of the 2011 U.S. soybean crop in hand to assure Japanese importers that the contamination was an isolated incident. This recently released study, funded by USB and the soy checkoff, helped to maintain the U.S. soy industry’s trading relationship with Japan.

“This study helps to protect U.S. soybean exports and assure our customers that we provide a safe, high-quality product year after year,” says Dwain Ford, USB director and soybean farmer from Kinmundy, Ill. “Services such as the agricultural chemical residue study really help us to set our soybeans and our services apart from competitors.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) conducted the analysis, which was funded by USB’s Global Opportunities program. Using statistically representative export samples of the most recent crop, this study analyzes the soybeans to determine if more than the allowable levels of agricultural chemical residues exist. Remaining consistent with past years, the analysis of the 2011 crop showed no violations of agricultural chemical residue levels in U.S. soybeans. Further results show that the detected fungicide has never shown up in a GIPSA analysis of U.S. soybeans. In 2011, U.S. soybean farmers shipped 75.2 million bushels of U.S. soybeans to Japan.

“We’re lucky that we had this study ready and available to help avoid trade disruption with Japan,” adds Ford.