First a December case of mad cow disease shut many a door to U.S. beef exports. Then, in early February, reports of an Avian flu outbreak in poultry surfaced in Delaware, causing several nations, including Russia, Japan, South Korea, Poland and China, to lock out U.S. poultry products.

All of this potentially could impact the soybean market because any drop in domestic livestock and poultry production could translate into a similar decrease in the need for soybean-based feed products.

The soybean industry is apparently taking notice. In an effort to minimize the impact to soybean producers and offer support to their fellow producers, the United Soybean Board has created a Livestock Industry Initiative. The plan is for soybean growers involved in the commodity group to help develop a strategic plan for the long-term growth of the domestic livestock industry.

“U.S. livestock producers have faced increased regulation at home and competition abroad. At the same time, 97 percent of soybean meal goes to livestock feed. Soybean farmers cannot afford to be neutral toward the challenges that impact their number one customer,” the United Soybean Board says.

According to United Soybean Board Chairman Criss Davis of Shullsburg, Wis., the U.S. poultry and livestock industries use more than half of the U.S. soybean crop. U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics show 51 percent of U.S.-produced soybean meal is consumed by poultry, 24 percent by swine and 19 percent by cattle.

“The impact and importance of the poultry and livestock industries to our economy are now very clear,” Davis said. “The closer chickens, turkeys, hogs and cattle are to the soybeans we produce, the better our profit opportunities will be.”


e-mail: dmuzzi@primediabusiness.com