Soy 2020 Can Help Fuel Biodiesel Success

By John Becherer | January 01, 2009
Two years ago, the U.S. soybean industry launched Soy 2020 as an industry-wide effort to ensure continued competitiveness of U.S. soy in the global marketplace. Responding to trends that suggested unprecedented U.S. soy demand, U.S. soybean farmers and other soy industry representatives designed Soy 2020 to anticipate opportunities and challenges and meet them head-on by knowing how to respond before they arrive.

With funding from the farmer-funded soybean checkoff through the United Soybean Board, among others, Soy 2020 brings together all segments of the U.S. soybean value chain, including farmers, processors, researchers and representatives of the food, feed and fuel industries. These U.S. soy industry professionals helped establish a set of 74 measurements that will track industry progress. This indicator tracking will take place biannually to update the soy market outlook. In short, Soy 2020 is helping to ensure a successful future for all U.S. soybean farmers and the rest of the U.S. soy industry, which includes a major sector of the U.S. biodiesel industry.

Soy 2020 helps enable the United States to continue being the global marketplace leader for soy. Innovation is at the center of the Soy 2020 vision. The key to achieving our goal is developing and adopting new, sustainable technology throughout the entire U.S. soy value chain. The U.S. biodiesel industry ranks high on that list.

Changing requirements within the U.S. biodiesel industry represent one of the reasons the U.S. soybean industry needed Soy 2020. Soy biodiesel measurably expanded utilization of U.S. soybean oil, which is one of the U.S. soy industry's major markets. The U.S. biodiesel industry has come a long way since 1992, when state and national soybean checkoff programs established the U.S. biodiesel industry foundation by helping create the National Biodiesel Board. U.S. soybean farmers, through our checkoff program, still fund most of the major promotion and research conducted by NBB that helps the U.S. biodiesel industry grow.

Soy 2020's steering committee of experts has identified biodiesel as one of eight major market factors that will help move the U.S. soybean industry forward. It has helped and will continue to generate innovation among the seed breeders, processors and others inside the U.S. soy industry. For example, new mid-oleic- and high-oleic-acid soybean seed varieties could be grown in the United States as early as next year. These new soybean varieties will produce oil that boasts even better cold-flow properties and oxidative stability than our current soy varieties. We intend to continue ensuring that when it's soy biodiesel-it's better.

We also continue to fund research that will protect and improve U.S. soybean yields for U.S. soybean farmers. After all, more soybeans mean more soybean oil, which eventually translates into a larger, reliable, high-quality and cost-effective feedstock supply for U.S. biodiesel.

We understand that technology advances by other crops and feedstocks could challenge U.S. soy's competitiveness. U.S. soybean farmers and industry will need to work even harder to adopt new technologies that will drive our success. That's why the soybean checkoff took the lead in organizing Soy 2020. For more information on how to become involved and use the power of Soy 2020 in your business, visit

In addition to serving on the Soy 2020 Planning Committee, John Becherer has served as chief executive officer of the United Soybean Board since 1995. Reach him at [email protected] or (800) 989-8721.
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