The United Soybean Board and soybean checkoff have announced the organization of a second annual See for Yourself tour. The first tour last summer helped acquaint some U.S. soybean farmers with the operation of their checkoff program.

“I really believe last year’s tour made a real positive impact on the participants,” said Jim Stillman, a soybean farmer from Emmetsburg, Iowa, and chair of the USB Audit and Evaluation Committee, which sponsors the tour. “It made them aware of the broad scope the checkoff has.”

USB is looking for 10 soybean farmers who have little to no hands-on experience with soybean checkoff programs to take this year’s tour July 13-18.

Anyone interested can fill out an application at the official soybean checkoff Web site, unitedsoybean.org.

Applications must be received by March 20. USB will also invite a limited number of media members to participate in the tour.

The tour offers an excellent opportunity for soybean farmers to interact with USB leadership, ask questions and provide their perspective on the checkoff.

The tour will start in St. Louis, where participants will hear from the USB chairman, CEO and executive director, as well as representatives of every USB committee about how checkoff dollars are invested to increase demand for U.S. soybeans.

After two days in St. Louis, the delegation heads to Mexico, which trails only China for importing U.S. soybeans and is second to none in soybean meal imports.

According to Stillman, who was on last year’s tour and will accompany the group this year, the itinerary will lend itself well to farmers seeing the fruits of their checkoff’s labor.

“Going to Mexico is well worth it,” Stillman said. “This tour provides farmers a look at several areas the checkoff is focusing on, including biodiesel, new uses, animal agriculture and international marketing.”

While on the trip, participants will tour several facilities that represent various end users of U.S. soybeans, including:

· An organization that uses soy biodiesel in a large fleet of vehicles or equipment.

· A soy ink manufacturing plant.

· A soybean shipping facility.

· A livestock operation that uses soybean meal as its primary animal feed.

· An aquaculture farm that uses soybean meal as its primary source for protein.

· A soybean oil refinery.

Bill Manville, a soybean, corn and wheat farmer from Winchester, Kan., made the trip last summer and says it’s a satisfying learning experience.

“I wish every farmer had the opportunity to participate in a checkoff project like this,” Manville said. “It’s an amazing experience to see how crop production impacts so many people. In Mexico, the people looked at us like we were heroes. As a farmer, it was very gratifying to see.”