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Soy News July 1999


Chinese WTO Agreement promises long-term benefits for U.S. soybean farmers

A recent tentative agreement on agricultural trade between the U.S. and China promises major long-term benefits to U.S. soybean farmers. The agreement specifies the agricultural import policies that China will implement upon acceding to the World Trade Organization (WTO). A positive WTO accession agreement has been a top priority of the U.S. soybean industry.

The effect of the Chinese commitments would be to assure U.S. soybean farmers will always have excellent assess to China's huge, growing market. China is the world's largest, single-country importer of soybean oil and soybean meal. During the 1990s, it has been the country most responsible for the enormous growth in global demand for soybeans and soybean products.

The United Soybean Board is investing more to promote soybean and product exports to China than in any other country. Partly because of USB's activities, China's consumption of soybean meal and oil have increased 1,140 percent and 224 percent, respectively, in this decade. Also, the country has shifted from being a net exporter to a net importer of soybeans and soybean meal. In the 1997-98 marketing year, China imported 2.94 MMT of soybeans, 4.2 MMT of soybean meal and 1.65 MMT of soybean oil. China's imports could easily triple in the next decade.

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Request for Referendum Update

The Soybean Checkoff Act and Order provides for an automatic producer review of the program every five years. The next opportunity for this producer review is 1999. This automatic producer review provision in the law requires the USDA to conduct a "request for referendum" process. This process will allow eligible producers who wish to request a soybean checkoff referendum to be able to do so through the county Farm Service Agency office in which their farm is located. Unlike the pork and beef checkoffs, a grass-roots petition drive is not necessary. Eligible producers who don't want to have a checkoff referendum are not required to do anything.

USDA has not yet issued final rules for the request for referendum process. USDA initially issued draft rules in September, 1998, and revised draft rules on April 16, 1999. USDA accepted public comment on these revised rules until May 17, 1999. It is anticipated that the final rules will be announced sometime this summer.

In a conscientious effort to include the most current and accurate number of eligible producer participants in the final rules, USDA conducted a statistical analysis in February, 1999, of their total list of soybean producers (970,000) to determine what percentage of this list would meet the definition of "soybean producer" contained in the Act and Order. This analysis determined that 600,813 producers met the definition and would be eligible to participate in the soybean referendum process. This figure was published in the revised draft rules on April 16.

An eligible producer will be defined as any person engaged in the growing of soybeans in the United States, who owns or shares the ownership and risk of loss of such soybeans. If at least ten percent of eligible producers nationwide request a referendum, with no more than one fifth of that ten percent coming from any one state, the USDA Secretary will conduct one within 12 months. It is now anticipated the request for referendum period could begin following this fall's harvest, possibly late November or early December. The Soybean Checkoff Act and Order requires both USDA and the United Soybean Board to notify eligible soybean producer participants of the request for referendum process 60 days prior to the end of the request period.

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Soy Connection Seminars GET THE WORD OUT

An increasing number of health-conscious Americans are looking for ways to incorporate soy into their diets, which is why more people are turning to dietitians and health care professionals for assistance.

In order to provide their clients with information on the health benefits of soy, health practitioners have been turning to U. S. soybean farmers and the "Soy Connection Seminars." At these checkoff-funded seminars, health practitioners are provided with the latest soy-related research on biotechnology, heart health and the treatment of menopause symptom relief and chronic diseases, such as cancer and diabetes.

In its fifth year, the daylong seminars have attracted more than 3,000 health practitioners, who have been presented with information on the future of the soyfoods industry and on cooking with soy and making it part of a healthy diet.

The seminars are expected to be even more popular with health practitioners as the FDA considers issuing a health claim on food products containing at least 6.25 grams of soy protein per serving.

This year's "Soy Connection Seminars" will be held on May 21 in Omaha, and on June 16 in Cleveland.

The Checkoff-funded Soy Con-nection newsletter is also available to those interested in reading more about the health benefits of soy. The newsletter is sent out to more than 117,000 registered dietitians, family and consumer science professionals and selected physicians.

For more information on the seminars or newsletter, call 888-772-8452.

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Interstate 2000 Completes Its Cross-Country Journey

The recently completed InterSTATE 2000 (Sustainable Technology from Agriculture Test Expedition) has brought local, regional and national attention to the soybean checkoff and its funding of a new motor oil made from soybeans.

"This historic event marks the beginning of important environmental products being integrated into the American lifestyle," says USB New Uses Chair Gene Lewis, a soybean farmer from Hardinsburg, Indiana.

Researchers from Agro Management Group of Colorado Springs, Colorado, spent three weeks in May traveling across the country in two Ford F-150 trucks raising the awareness levels of farmers and consumers about the motor oil's environmental and economic benefits.

"We conducted over 120 media interviews during our trek, which has definitely helped get the word out to farmers and consumers," says Tim Lambert, Agro Management chief financial officer and one of the truck drivers. "The journey was featured on ABC News, CNN and Paul Harvey."

Called AMG 2000, the soy-containing motor oil was used in one of the trucks that crossed the country. A standard petroleum-based motor oil was used in the other truck. "

In using the motor oil made from soybeans, we were able to get better mileage through improved engine efficiency," says Lambert.

Because vegetable oils such as soybean oil naturally adhere to metals, have a neutral pH and contain natural antioxidants, heavy metals are not stripped from the engine and oxidative stability is preserved, both improving the engine's efficiency and conserving energy.

The motor oil also reduces harmful emissions and reduces the potential for soil and water contamination from spills of illegal disposal. In fact, independent toxicity tests show the soy-containing motor oil is 230,000 times less toxic than conventional motor oil.

Agro Management, the Alternative Agriculture Research and Commerciali-zation Corporation and the Thumb Oilseed Producers Cooperative, Ubly, Michigan, have partnered to build a manufacturing facility in Ubly.

"Soybean farmers receive a premium for delivering high quality, industrial-use soybeans to the facility," says Lewis. "Plus farmers who are part of the cooperative will also profit by being part of the revenue stream and supply chain."

The cooperative also has the licensing rights to the soy-containing motor oil technology. Agro Management is currently marketing AMG 2000 to fleets in 1999 and is looking toward additional markets in 2000.

"This soy-containing motor oil has the potential to increase domestic soybean utilization by 88 million bushels by capturing just 5 percent of the motor oil market," says Lewis. "This will help increase the value of U.S. soybeans and farmers' profit opportunities."

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John Stossel, ABCNEWS newsmagazine 20/20 correspondent, will be one of many distinguished speakers at the Global Soy Forum '99, scheduled for August 4-7, 1999, in Chicago.

Stossel, who is slated to speak on Saturday, August 7, during the farewell event, is expected to address the importance of creating worldwide partnerships in relation to the future of food production. In addition, he will likely examine the health benefits of incorporating soy products into the food system.

As part of the Friday night gala event, a presentation will be made addressing the topic, "soybean production in the future." Vice President Al Gore has been invited to speak on this issue.

In addition to the array of speakers at Global Soy Forum '99, a number of special events are planned for participants. A reception will be held at the Chicago Board of Trade, where tours and educational seminars will be offered. For those interested in the role of farm communications in the next century, a CyberFarm 2110 presentation will examine the role of the Internet, e-mail and Global Positioning Systems technology.

Finally, a trade show featuring exhibitors from around the world will be set up throughout the event showcasing planters, drills and other farm equipment. EMBRAPA, the Brazilian equivalent to USDA, will showcase the Brazilian soybean industry. Several other countries also will feature their respective industries.

Registration fees are $395. A discounted registration rate is available for farmers at $195 and is now being accepted. For registration information, write:
Global Soy Forum '99
1101 W. Peabody
Room 165
Urbana, IL 61801
call (217) 244-7384 or visit the website at

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