As Three Dog Night once sang, "One is the loneliest number," and right now it may seem lonely at the top of the list of our soy customers. U.S. poultry, livestock and fish farmers, who stand alone as our biggest customer, are currently faced with a time of extraordinarily high feed prices.
As soybean farmers, we see all kinds of numbers – yield, price, basis, just to name a few. But no number should stick out more to you than 1. That's right, your No. 1 customer: animal agriculture. It may not impact your yield, but it certainly impacts the price at the Chicago Board of Trade and your basis at the local elevator. And those numbers are just as important to your bottom line.
Animal ag is struggling right now. While it may not always be our first concern, it should be top of mind. Poultry, hogs, cattle and fish consume nearly 98 percent of our U.S. soy meal each year. A strong domestic livestock industry means greater opportunity for U.S. soybean farmers to sell our beans here at home and minimize shipping costs, which affect our basis.
Unfortunately, this year's drought affected most of the United States and also impacted many domestic poultry and livestock farmers. Higher prices for soybeans leave our animal ag partners to pay more at the feed mill.
The soy checkoff recognizes the struggles of our fellow farmers raising poultry and livestock and wants to reaffirm its priority and commitment to helping this sector through marketing and education efforts.
The truth is, our customers aren't alone. The soy checkoff works to increase exports of U.S. meat and poultry, funds studies that showcase the value of the U.S. animal agriculture sector for our economy and assists in education efforts to build consumer trust and confidence in today's food system. The checkoff also funds production research to ensure a stable supply for years to come.
When soybean prices are high, it may be difficult to think about how that affects our customers. But, it is important for U.S. soybean farmers to think beyond the elevator. Just remember the demand generated by domestic poultry and livestock adds value to our crop beyond one year.
The 69 farmer-directors of USB oversee the investments of the soy checkoff to maximize profit opportunities for all U.S. soybean farmers. These volunteers invest and leverage checkoff funds to increase the value of U.S. soy meal and oil, to ensure U.S. soybean farmers and their customers have the freedom and infrastructure to operate, and to meet the needs of U.S. soy's customers. As stipulated in the federal Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soy checkoff.