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Recent board meeting provides new approaches to remaining competitive in 2008 and beyond  FORT WORTH (Feb. 22, 2008) - To stay competitive in today's global market you must adapt and evolve within your environment. That’s exactly what the soybean checkoff will continue to do for U.S. soybean farmers. Directors of the United Soybean Board (USB) and soybean checkoff convened this week to review strategies and finalize funding priorities for the 2009 fiscal year. During the meeting, farmer-leaders approved a resolution addressing a proposal sent to USB from the Soy Opportunities Task Force (SOTF).  "U.S. soybean farmers are experiencing positive growth in so many ways right now," says Ike Boudreaux, USB chairman and a soybean farmer from Lebeau, La. "We’re all aware of near record soybean prices, but what about the fact that three of every four farmers support the checkoff? To keep the momentum going, we will continue funding research and promoting soy technology. New programs such as our Biotechnology Initiative will guide new soybean varieties into the market through knowledge, understanding and acceptance." USB farmer-leaders reviewed results of their semi-annual producers' survey that helps provide direction from farmers across the countryside. Results show 75 percent of farmers support the checkoff. Other highlights include:       ü  58 percent of farmers are using biodiesel, up 8 percent from 2007      ü  81 percent feel the checkoff has helped expand international markets for farmers, up 9 percent     ü  76 percent of farmers feel that checkoff  research has helped improve production techniques     ü  89 percent of farmers believe the checkoff has helped develop new soy products Farmers are currently working with $77 million to operate programs in 2008. The baseline budget for fiscal year 2009 has been set at $64 million. Soybean checkoff priorities include a focus on quality of product both at home and overseas; continued support of the livestock industry; preparation for a potential rust outbreak; protecting farmers’ futures through sustainability; and how the checkoff can provide relief to high input costs. Farmer-leaders also evaluated long-range strategies and the ability of each program to impact farmer profitability. Examples include partnerships with industry, like Ford Motor Company to develop soy foam seating in automobiles and John Deere’s adoption of similar technology. Farmer-leaders are looking into containerized shipping to better meet customer needs and will review transportation issues to keep prices competitive with other nations. On the home front, the checkoff will continue to support animal agriculture, which consumes 98 percent of domestic soybean meal. Support and promotion of soy biodiesel will remain in the forefront of farmer-leaders minds. Through state and national checkoff efforts, farmers have invested a total of $60 million in biodiesel research and commercialization. The National Biodiesel Board reported that last year alone farmers saw a $6 billion return on this investment or in other words, a 10,000 percent return on their investment. In the interest of protecting their organization, USB farmer-leaders' resolved that the SOTF proposal would have an adverse affect on future USB operations and the following recommendations be delivered to USDA:       ü  Leaders feel that because SOTF proposals keep changing, it’s difficult to analyze and comment on them.      ü  Nothing in the proposals provided to USB by SOTF would result in an increase of soybean consumption.      ü  Finally, SOTF recommendations would make USB operations much less efficient. USB is made up of 68 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. Checkoff funds are invested in the areas of animal utilization, human utilization, industrial utilization, industry relations, market access and supply. As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff.



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