Highland County farmer Nathan Brown has been selected as one of just 10 farmers in the United States to travel to St. Louis, China and Vietnam in order to learn more about the soy checkoff program and see where their soybeans go in other nations.
The announcement was made June 9 by the United Soybean Board in St. Louis, and is part of the organization’s “See For Yourself” program.
“I’m very excited about this opportunity,” Brown told Rural Life Today, a publication of Civitas Media. “I never thought I’d travel outside of the United States at all, let alone travel to Asia.” Brown said that early this year he filled out an application to be considered for one of the 10 slots.
“I never expected to be picked. There were only 10 places,” he said. “I guess they looked at the fact that I am pretty active in a number of farm groups here.” Brown said he received an email in early June informing him he had been selected. “I was very surprised,” he said.
Brown, who is the Highland County Farm Bureau president, has about 750 acres of soybeans planted this season. Two years ago, he and his wife Jennifer were named Ohio Farm Family of the Year by the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation.
“The See for Yourself program is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” says Keith Tapp, a soybean farmer from Sebree, Ky., and chair of USB’s Audit and Evaluation Committee, which sponsors See for Yourself. “Participants are able to ask questions and give feedback to me and other farmer-leaders directly, while seeing the results of their checkoff investment firsthand.”
Brown, along with farmers from Indiana, Delaware, Louisiana, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arkansas and South Carolina, will travel late this summer to St. Louis, then Shanghai, China and then to Ho Chi Min City, Vietnam for the eight-day trip.
Brown said that so far, no detailed itinerary has been released for their trip. “I know that in Vietnam, they are very involved in aquaculture, so I am looking forward to seeing that,” he said. “I am really looking forward to seeing where our soybeans go, and how they are used.”
The See for Yourself program gives participants a firsthand look at how and where their soybeans are being used both domestically and internationally. It also offers participants an opportunity to evaluate specific, checkoff-funded research and promotional activities.
This will be See for Yourself’s first visit to Vietnam. The third-largest aquaculture-producing country in the world, Vietnam offers a unique look at animal agriculture’s needs for high-quality soybean meal. With the cost of fishmeal-based feeds rising, soybean meal is a more affordable and more sustainable protein option for aquaculture feed.
In 2014, Vietnam imported more than 350,000 metric tons of U.S. soybean meal, or the meal from over 16.3 million bushels of U.S. soybeans, most of which was used to feed fish.
Other stops during the program will highlight the checkoff’s work in production research, transportation, biodiesel, high oleic and more.
The 70 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. soybean 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.