Midwest soybeans are going global



(The Center Square) – Illinois soybeans are going global as part of a campaign to boost exports instead of relying heavily on China.

The program has Midwest farmers branching out to countries like Egypt, Nigeria, and Honduras with a good measure of success. In Illinois, where 60% of soybeans are exported, farmers are looking to the program for stability in a changing global climate.

Mark Read, an Illinois farmer and vice chair of the Soy Excellence Center Steering Committee, told The Center Square this training effort helps farmers in other lands maximize soybean use.

Read notes that 40% of the nation’s soybean exports go to China where politics have created an uncertain future.

“It’s very important that we diversify our products,” he said.

There’s also a humanitarian side to these efforts, according to Read, “Some of these other countries are growing and they need more protein in their diet.”

He noted that in places like Nigeria, only one in five babies lives to the age of 5 partly due to protein deficiencies that soybeans can help correct.

Meanwhile, the outlook is considered bright for U.S.-grown soybeans with new markets being created for Midwest exports and expanded use in fuel.

Not only are these new markets building confidence in the future of soybeans as opposed to relying on China, but Illinois is welcoming new crushing facilities for soybean fuel, according to Read.

“Part of that is because of the demand for oil,” he said.

Both efforts put the approximately 43,000 Illinois soybean farmers in what he called a “good position.”

To add to the Soy Excellence Centers launched in 2019 with government funds, Read said there is a focus on new horizons, some in need of a healthier diet.

“India could be a big future customer as they’ve got a lot of people that need protein in their diet,” he said.

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