Sustainability: You may not know much about it, but your customers do
Nearly 40 percent of farmers participating in a recent soy-checkoff survey say they’re unfamiliar with the term. That concerns United Soybean Board (USB) farmer-leader Mike Thede because he says many of U.S. soy’s customers consider sustainability very important.
“Our customers are starting to ask how we are producing our products and if we’re doing it in a sustainable manner,” says Thede, who farms in Palmer, Neb. “As we go forward, it will affect our bottom line if we aren’t doing things in a way that is deemed sustainable.”
USB has compiled a robust set of data that demonstrates U.S. soy’s outstanding sustainability performance to customers. And USB recently joined the U.S. Soybean Export Council, American Soybean Association and several state soy checkoff boards in pledging continued sustainability improvement by the industry.
“U.S. soybean production is very sustainable,” says Thede. “Most of the reports and studies the checkoff has done to compare different aspects of U.S. soy production and how that relates to sustainability have shown very good marks for the U.S. soybean industry.”
The checkoff polls U.S. soybean farmers twice every year on issues important to the future of U.S. soy. A portion of the most recent survey gauged farmer awareness of sustainability, including these findings:
- Over half of farmers (54 percent) say they’ve made changes to improve their farm’s sustainability performance.
- More than seven out of 10 (72 percent) believe using sustainable farming methods will enhance their bottom line.
- About eight of 10 (79 percent) say sustainable practices reduce pesticide use, increase soil fertility and reduce fuel use.
“One of the concepts that is a very big thing in sustainability is continuous improvement,” Thede adds. “We need to continue to look at new innovation, new techniques, new varieties and, in the whole system, we have to develop practices that make us more sustainable as we move forward. Our customers are asking for that.”