U.S. soybean farmers are looking for new ways to build demand for soybeans and soy products by exploring partnership activities with growers in Paraguay. U.S. soybean grower-leaders recently met with Paraguayan farmers to discuss how they could work together to increase market potential and improve soybean farmer profitability.

The result is a farmer-based agreement, called the Global Grower Development Agreement, signed between the United States Soybean Export Council (USSEC) and the Paraguayan Chamber of Cereals & Oilseeds Exporters (CAPECO) and Paraguayan Soybean, Oilseeds and Cereals Producer Association (APS). Grower-leaders from the United Soybean Board (USB) and American Soybean Association (ASA) were also on hand to endorse the agreement.

“We are excited about working with Paraguayan soybean farmers to increase the use of soy in markets like India,” says Curt Raasch, USB chairman and a soybean farmer from Odebolt, IA. “This was really the first time that grower-to-grower discussions have occurred between U.S. producers and our competitors about partnering opportunities in a specific target market.”

The agreement concentrates on activities in the Republic of India with the understanding that additional markets can and will be added if deemed mutually beneficial to both parties. The U.S. does not currently export soybeans or soy products to India. Considering that the population of India is projected to surpass China by the year 2040, and India’s soybean meal consumption per capita is currently one-tenth that of China’s, increased demand for soy in India’s poultry, dairy, aquaculture and human sectors could open up substantial new opportunities.

The U.S. is already implementing programs to increase demand for soybeans in India, and South American growers are being encouraged to support these efforts by funding activities like feed technology workshops, feed marketing support and soyfoods training programs.

“Our initial goal is to get the Indians to consume their own soybean meal and thus decrease their exports to key markets in Asia and the Middle East,” says Bob Metz, ASA president and a soybean farmer from West Browns Valley, SD. “The Paraguayans realize that growing future demand in India is going to help all of the Americas, not just the U.S., and they were also in agreement that it’s time for North and South America to begin identifying ways to share the cost of building demand for soy products in India.”

U.S. grower-leaders have also discussed partnership activities with growers in Brazil and Argentina. Several South American farmer groups have expressed interest in supporting additional collaborative efforts.

The Global Grower Development Agreement calls for activities that will broadly promote the development and use of the soybean complex, as a valuable commodity, which advances the interests of its producers, processors and users through product and market development support. All vested parties agreed that further discussions need to be held. Joint educational activities are scheduled to occur as early as this fall.