Soybean farmers do their part for Japan
The United Soybean Board (USB), which represents the nearly 600,000 U.S. soybean farmers, will help Japanese small businesses that wish to donate food to those in need after multiple disasters in that country.
The soybean checkoff plans to help Japanese companies including soyfood processors, suppliers and distributors donate soy-based food to people affected by the recent earthquake and resulting tsunami and nuclear disasters.
"We have been fortunate enough to have served Japanese soy customers for more than 50 years," said Marc Curtis, USB chairman and a soybean farmer from Leland, Miss. "We hope this gesture will send a message to the Japanese people that all U.S. farmers - of soybeans and all crops, poultry and livestock - support them as they work to emerge from this difficult time."
Japanese small businesses that wish to participate in the program may apply for reimbursement for donations of soy-based food such as tofu, cereal, pasta, bread, canned soybeans, soynuts, soybean oil for cooking, soymilk, cheese and yogurt, among other soy-based foods.
Seventy percent of Japanese soybean imports originate from the United States. Japan is U.S. soybean farmers' third-largest international trading partner.
The soybean checkoff's representatives who live and work in Japan will administer the program. The U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) will help bring together the small businesses that wish to donate and soybean checkoff funds that will support those donations.
"Over the past few weeks we have seen terrible devastation, but we have also witnessed the resilience of the Japanese people," said Jim Echle, USSEC's country director in Japan. "We are grateful for the opportunity to show our support to the Japanese people and the local soy industry."
USB is made up of 69 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. Checkoff funds are invested in the areas of animal utilization, human utilization, industrial utilization, industry relations, market access and supply. As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff.