Five Themes to Consider for the Future of U.S. Soy

Learn How Shifts in the Global Market Will Impact Demand and Preference and What You Can Do to Be Successful


Even with today’s rising interest in quality soybean meal and oil, farmers continue to make growing decisions based on yield. However, customers are asking for specific meal nutritional profiles or more oil. New traits and market-ready varieties will be required to meet this shift in market demand – without sacrificing yield. Some specific end-market soybeans, like SOYLEIC® soybeans, concentrate on increasing oil output with the exact trait’s customers want. These high-quality varieties will open new domestic and global market opportunities for U.S. soy and position soy as the traceable ingredient of choice.


Ask your current seed provider what kind of research is being conducted to increase the quality of soybeans and produce different protein compositions or more soybean oil per bushel than ever before. If you’re considering growing a specific variety, or just interested in the value of traceability, check with your local Extension specialist to see how data is being used to track agriculture products from farm to fork.


Your checkoff dollars are invested in work with geneticists and agronomists to understand specific traits that are in high demand and better outline what future soybean varieties are needed.


The current demand for alternative fuels – including biodiesel, renewable diesel, and sustainable aviation fuel – is driving increased demand for soybean oil. While that demand is expected to continue in over-the-road fleets and high-horsepower engines, consumers are trending toward electric vehicles. The biodiesel and renewable diesel industries are poised to capitalize on demand for renewable fuels now rather than force large vehicles to wait for electrification to improve their carbon footprints.


Lead by example. Use soy biodiesel on your own farm and encourage other farmers in your area, retail fleet managers, and other local businesses to consider doing the same. Ensuring a consistent and reliable market for soybean oil in the future is crucial to keeping demand strong.


Current checkoff programs investing in renewable, soy-based diesel are critical to positioning soybean oil as a viable alternative to petroleum and securing markets that prefer soy as an alternative fuel source. And identifying new end-user markets like home and commercial heating that may benefit from soy biodiesel is critical to securing long-term demand for soybean oil.


There are three facts when it comes to soy meal as a protein source:

  1. Animal agriculture is by far the largest market for soy meal
  2. Global demand for protein will increase as population and economic security expands
  3. Consumers are already looking at options to animal protein

Soy sits in an enviable leadership position among protein sources. Embracing both the animal and alternative protein markets will be critical, as will looking at the option of blended proteins in the future.


Consider adding a new variety on your farm that is grown for specific markets. Understand the criteria for growing those varieties to ensure customers receive what they are demanding. Recognize that both the animal agriculture and the alternative proteins markets are valuable and necessary for an expanding population. We too often see one market pitted against another in agriculture, and the truth is, consumers rely on us for ALL food. Be proud to grow such a versatile and valuable ingredient that can be used by so many in the food sector.


Checkoff programs focused on expanding animal agriculture worldwide and fine-tuning soy meal nutritional profiles help secure your largest market. The soybean checkoff is also investing in understanding consumer preferences on alternative proteins, researching and introducing new varieties for specialty and food grade markets, and positioning soy as a versatile, cost-efficient ingredient.


Developing countries are investing in infrastructure to more efficiently move commodities to end users. U.S. infrastructure mainstays like the locks and dams along the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers must continue to be updated to ensure farmers remain competitive. China is merging agriculture and food companies to compete with U.S. giants like Cargill, ADM, Bunge Ltd., and Louis Dreyfus Co. Additionally, established countries are looking at ways to reduce their environmental footprints, putting added pressure on sustainability efforts across the supply chain.


U.S. soy is only as good as we grow it. As we expand traits and technologies to increase the quality of soy oil and meal, invest in growing those varieties to elevate the overall quality of U.S. soy as a commodity. Consider adding more sustainable growing practices to your farm to help differentiate U.S. soy from other competitors. Helping buyers meet their sustainability goals will be a key opportunity to secure long-term global customers.


Despite the enormity of the world market, competition in agriculture remains fierce. The soybean checkoff is investing in projects to expand global markets and make U.S. soy the preference for global customers. It is also funding research and assessments on local infrastructure like the Mississippi River to ensure U.S. infrastructure will not become a challenge in exporting soybeans.


As more and more companies announce sustainability initiatives and embrace solutions to help mitigate climate change, they are turning to agriculture to help make those initiatives real. This means farmers may be financially rewarded for traceability and growing soybeans in a certain way for specific end-uses. This will open up new revenue streams and financial opportunities to contribute to economic viability. These new financial opportunities may be an option to reduce farmer risk.


Continue to tap into the programs your state soybean checkoff offers to take advantage of potential revenue streams in your own backyard. In some states, extension specialists can help you set up your data management program to offer more traceability, which can help you sell directly to customers. If you have ideas on how to build additional revenue streams, diversify your farm to capture additional value, or establish unique capital, share them with checkoff leaders.


The soybean checkoff continues to invest in and develop programs that help farmers add sustainable practices to their operations. From educating farmers implementing carbon programs to creating cost-share programs to help with that implementation, the soybean checkoff is investing in the newest trends in sustainable agriculture to help farmers capture the most value on their farm.

Your Soybean Checkoff is Investing in Your Future

Learn What the Checkoff is Doing to Position U.S. Soy for Success

The five themes from The Future State of Soy study outlined ways for farmers to adapt their businesses. The study also outlined four strategic imperatives for state soybean checkoff organizations to adopt to help take full advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead for U.S. soy.

Disrupt from Within:

The five states’ soybean checkoffs will be proactive players in the evolution of the agri-food value chain of the future. Leaders will take risks. Change will be embraced. Pushing back on the status quo will be expected.

Explore new business models and partnerships:

The five states’ soybean checkoffs will explore funding models and partnerships that amplify checkoff dollars with non-checkoff revenue and stronger connections within the value chain. These partnerships may be unexpected, but impactful for the long term positioning and market security for soy.

Reimagine research and development:

The five states’ soybean checkoffs will invest in programs and research to speed up the innovation cycle in agriculture that incorporate partners outside our traditional circle. End user demands will drive checkoff investments, which will look different than investments of the past.

Define the value propositions:

The five states’ soybean checkoffs will clearly define and demonstrate the value of U.S. soy to domestic and international customers, which will help farmers compete in the global marketplace and take advantage of premiums for specific quality measures.

Learn more about how each state soybean checkoff is investing farmer dollars to find opportunities in the future.

Questions About the Future State of Soy?

Find the Answers Here

Who funded the Future State of Soy report?
The Future State of Soy report was funded by leveraging five state soybean boards’ funds — Missouri, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois.
Why was this report done?
It’s clear that the soybean supply chain is changing rapidly, with consumer trends, growing export markets, and sustainability efforts influencing how soybeans are grown. Rather than waiting to catch up with those changes, the Future State of Soy report helps outline the biggest potential shifts for U.S. soy so farmers, commodity organizations, and industry allies can best position themselves for success.
What are the five trends in the Future State of Soy report?
The report uncovered five trends to closely monitor:

  1. A rising focus on quality soybean oil and meal
  2. Changes in fuel demand and emerging fuel uses
  3. The rising need for protein – both in animal and plant form
  4. Global market competition and how infrastructure will impact those markets
  5. Emerging and diversified revenue streams to strengthen farmers’ bottom lines

More details on each of these trends can be found ABOVE or you can download the overview of the report HERE.

Who was involved in the process to determine the five trends?
A combination of farmer checkoff leaders, industry experts and market analysts worked through different future scenarios to determine how and why the current soybean supply chain could adapt.
What should farmers do with the information in the report?
Every farm and every farmer is unique. The Future State of Soy report is designed to outline opportunities for farmers to consider so they can be best positioned for success in the future. Not all opportunities will be viable for all farms and farmers — but knowing where the industry is moving can help you make smart and informed decisions today that will help determine future success.
How is the soybean checkoff using the Future State of Soy report to prioritize projects?
The soybean checkoff will use the following strategic actions to take advantage of what the report outlines and provide support for farmers’ futures:

1. Disrupt within by taking risks, embracing change, and pushing back on the status quo. This reduces the need to be defensive when external disruptions arise.

2. Explore new business models and partnerships that make checkoff dollars go further faster. Amplifying checkoff investments with non-checkoff collaborators can result in stronger connections within the value chain that ultimately result in unexpected yet impactful partnerships.

3. Reimagine research and development to speed the innovation cycle in agriculture that brings outsiders in. Checkoff investments will be driven by end-user demands.

4. Define the value propositions of U.S. soy to domestic and international customers so that our commodity is positioned as the high-quality, sustainable, and available soy of choice in the global marketplace.

Is there anything in the report that is controversial?
The report was designed to look objectively at real trends and impacts that will shift our industry in new directions. While some individuals may not support parts of the report for their own reasons, the five state soybean organizations believe the transparency of the five trends are most helpful to soybean farmers. For example, the growing demand for protein will mean that both animal and plant proteins are needed to feed a global population. While those product categories may go head-to-head in marketing campaigns, soy is in an enviable position to support both of those food segments.
What more will the soybean checkoff do to future-proof our industry?
Through collective farmer dollars, the soybean checkoff invests in programs that not only add value to soybeans, but also helps uncover future opportunities to secure soybean demand. While different programs are funded at both the state and national levels, all checkoff investments are designed to help deliver a stronger bottom line for U.S. soybean farmers.

Funded by the soybean checkoffs in Missouri, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois: