U.S. soybeans a good fit wherever protein is needed

January 3, 2024

April Hemmes loves to talk about U.S. soybeans, why countries should be importing them, and how U.S. farmers grow the world’s highest-value soybeans. Hemmes, the United Soybean Board (USB) Demand Action Team Chair was recently halfway around the world at the China International Import Expo, where she observed that China’s position as the world's largest soybean importer is a good opportunity for U.S. soybean farmers.

“China needs our products, and we need China to import our products. And that’s really the main message there, especially since they import over half of our soybeans that we export,” said Hemmes, during an interview for the South Dakota Soybean Network radio program and the Soybean POD podcast.

There’s growing demand for protein around the world and Hemmes, who farms in northcentral Iowa, said China and many other countries often use bodies of water to produce that protein.

“Aquaculture is growing worldwide, it’s amazing how much it’s growing and that’s getting more protein to people in need,” said Hemmes. “There’s no better protein to feed those fish than soybean meal, so [any county that produces aquaculture is] a good place for our soybean meal to be exported.”

Hemmes’s first of many trips to China as a farmer/leader on the USB was to talk about U.S. soybean growers’ Sustainability Assurance Protocol, which she says is becoming more important to soybean importing countries.

“Consumers around the world, they’re wondering, just like here in America, ‘How is our food being raised, where is it coming from?’ So we now have that sustainability logo they can put on their food [packaging],” she said, “which is a great selling point.”

The U.S. Sustainability Assurance Protocol logo is increasingly sought after, which, according to Hemmes, gives U.S. soybean farmers a leg up on other countries that export soybeans.

“What I hear all over the world is, ‘American farmers are the best and most sustainable in the world,’” said Hemmes, “and that really gives me great pride, and it really makes that logo and where those soybeans and corn come from really take a front seat to all the other products.”

More of April Hemmes’s interview can be heard on the South Dakota Soybean Checkoff-supported Soybean POD, available on most podcast delivery platforms.