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The Checkoff that Cares

Three men talking in a half circle
By Gary Wheeler
The Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council (MSMC), in partnership with four other state checkoffs, invested in understanding the future of the soybean industry.

When you get up in the morning, you have a lot on your mind. You’re thinking about what to prepare for breakfast, getting the kids to school on time, the mid-morning meetup with the seed dealer and your evening FFA alumni meeting at the high school. On top of that, as a farmer, you’re hitting the alarm at the crack of dawn, rolling out into the cold to feed cattle, checking the weather and the markets simultaneously and anticipating the needs for the next planting season. The job of a farmer never ends, and the work never stops. It’s one of the most rewarding jobs, and it’s all-consuming. That is why the checkoff is in place. 

We think about the things you don’t have time to think about. We are an extension of your family’s farming operation. We are the checks and balances branch working to ensure your legacy stays intact through investments in research, promotion and education. 

Two years ago, the checkoff made a strategic investment with four other state soybean boards –Illinois Soybean Association, Indiana Soybean Alliance, Iowa Soybean Association and Ohio Soybean Council – to conduct a study looking at the Future State of Soy. The Future State of Soy project was funded because the soybean checkoff believes that today’s investments result in tomorrow’s opportunities. 

This comprehensive intelligence research project, conducted by Aimpoint Research, clarified the Future State of Soy and key dynamics that will impact and ultimately define the U.S. soybean industry in 2040. The intelligence was incorporated into the Future State of Soy Wargame, a capstone event designed to drive actionable recommendations and priorities for investment, strategic planning and innovative partnerships. 

The wargame turned over stones that were previously left unturned and gave answers to the long-pondered question: Where is the industry headed? Through the game, Aimpoint Research discovered strategic imperatives that were further classified into five major themes. These five themes will help shape strategic investment decisions by the soybean checkoff to ensure that remains the soy of choice for a global marketplace. 

The five themes identified in the exercise include a rising focus on high-quality soybean oil and meal; changes in fuel demand, including alternative fuels and emerging fuel uses; the rising need for protein given a growing global population – both in animal and plant form; the increasing global competition for soy and how infrastructure can provide an impactful advantage; and emerging and diversified revenue streams that will offer farmers more opportunities. 

At Missouri Soybeans, we know that every farmer and every farm is unique. Identifying these themes alone enables the farmer to determine if their operation is set up to take advantage of onceover another, or if it can support a multitude of changes to take advantage of several trends. 

It’s important to note, the themes identified aren’t the only changes that will happen in the global soybean supply chain. However, they are considered five shifts that could impact Missouri soybean farmers and producers on a national scale. 

What we want our farmers to know and take to heart is that the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council (MSMC) is already investing in several programs at both the national and state levels to find new markets, new uses and new characteristics of soybeans that will align with these five trends.  

For example, there are trends MSMC is already addressing, such as investing in genetics and varieties that result in high-quality soybean oil and meal or identifying new fuel uses such as sustainable aviation fuel. Other trends, including emerging revenue streams or global infrastructure, are opportunities that still have some maturing to do.  

MSMC has a rich history in devoting dollars to innovative research projects that aid the future farmer. The organization will continue to devote time and research to SOYLEIC soybeans, biodiesel, soy-based protein and domestic infrastructure. As the soybean checkoff continues to position U.S. soy for the future, this work will help influence how the world perceives the value of domestic soy and soy products.  

Understanding these five themes and how they will impact the larger soybean supply chain can help you make strategic decisions on your farm to position yourself for more opportunities to be successful. The desire is to help farmers make smart, informed decisions that can impact the longevity and profitability of their farm for the long-term. We believe every farmer can benefit from learning more about each theme and following them closely in the next few years. The soybean checkoff will also closely monitor the five themes identified in the Future State of Soy report and communicate progress or changes so that soybean farmers can adjust their businesses as needed.  

Our goal is to leverage the strong position of soy to reinforce respective positions of influence across the industry. But standing still is not an option for remaining relevant in a competitive future. Exploring and implementing new business models, partnerships, research, development and value propositions will create positions of relative advantage in order for us to better help the farmer. Looking ahead to these themes will help all of U.S. soy be more proactive and productive in the future.  

So, the next time you go to your local grain elevator, and you wonder where the one half of your one percent in your paycheck just went, know that it went to an investment in your family’s farm. It’s an investment in tools, insights and research you need to be effective today and decades from now. Because you are busy making chemical decisions and surveying your land for the best sustainable practices, we wanted to inspect the farmers’ needs today and in 2040.  

We need you and the world needs farmers. Remember, you are the Future State of Soy. 

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