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U.S. and Wisconsin Soybean Facts

What are Soybeans?
The bushy, green soybean plant is a legume related to clover, peas and alfalfa. Soybeans are typically planted in the late spring and when they flower, in the summer, they can produce up to 80 pods. Each pod contains 2-4 pea-sized beans, which are high in protein and oil.

Where are soybeans commonly grown?
Soybeans are grown throughout the United States but the ideal planting locations are in the Midwest. Typically, in Wisconsin soybeans are planted in April/May and harvested in September/October.

What are soybeans used for?
Soybeans actually have hundreds of uses from industrial products like engine oil or crayons to food products and animal feeds. Soybeans are naturally rich in protein and oil and they have the highest natural source of dietary fiber making them a very versatile crop in terms of how it is used. Typically when soybeans are processed they are cleaned, cracked, dehulled, and rolled into flakes. This process separates the soybean oil and the soybean meal. The oil can be used in food products like salad dressing or cooking oils or it can be used in countless industrial products. The meal part of the soybean meal, which contains the protein, can be used in further food products or it can be used to provide feed to livestock. Visit SoyStats.com for a list of even more uses for soybeans.

Soybean farmers are improving yields using less land, energy and water
Today’s farmers grows twice as much food as his or her parents did, and does so using less land, energy and water, producing fewer emissions. According to a new report released by Field to Market, The Keystone Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, six U.S. commodity groups—including soybeans—are being produced more efficiently than they were three decades ago. During the study period, from 1980 to 2011, total soybean production increased 96 percent and the yield (bushels per planted acre) increased 55 percent.

Learn how our soybean farmers provide the following for us every day.

Feed

  • The livestock industry is the largest consumer of soy meal. In fact, 98 percent of U.S. soy meal goes to feed pigs, chickens and cows.
  • Animal agriculture is a soybean farmer’s #1 customer.
  • The soybean is the highest natural source of dietary fiber.
  • A 60-pound bushel of soybeans yields about 48 pounds of protein-rich meal & 11 pounds of oil.

Food

  • Soyfoods—including edamame, tofu, soymilk, soy nuts and other versatile ingredients like TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein)—offer flavor, texture, nutrition and health benefits.
  • For centuries, soyfoods have played an important role in Asian cuisines and in recent years they have also become popular in American cuisine.
  • Soyfoods are cholesterol-free, excellent sources of high-quality protein, and they offer a healthy mix of polyunsaturated fat.
  • Each serving of soyfoods provides 7 to 15 grams of protein.
  • Evidence indicates that soyfoods reduce the risk of several chronic diseases including coronary heart disease, osteoporosis and certain forms of cancer.
  • For women and girls there are advantages to consuming about one serving of soy per day during childhood and/or adolescence. Studies from China and the United States indicate that consuming just on serving of soy each day when young may offer significant protection against breast cancer. Enjoying a cup of soymilk or ½ cup of tofu a day may reduce the chances of developing breast cancer later in life by as much as 50 percent.
  • Experts recommend 2-3 servings of soyfoods daily for everyday wellness.

Fueling our Economy

  • Wisconsin has 11,000 soybean growers enriching our way of life.
  • 98% of the U.S. soybean and livestock farms are family farms.
  • Wisconsin ranks 13th in soybean production among U.S. states.
  • Wisconsin soybean farmers grows twice as much food as his or her parents did using less land, energy, water and fewer emissions.
  • In 2011, Wisconsin growers harvested 73.6 million bushels of soybeans (2.4 % of U.S. soybean production) on 1.6 million acres of land with a yield of 48 bushels per acre of soybeans.
  • Rock County is the leading producer of all Wisconsin counties growing soybeans. Followed by, Dane, Dodge, Grant and Jefferson counties.
  • Soy is the leading U.S. agricultural export, valued at more than $23 billion.
  • Wisconsin is a major exporter of soybeans. Sixty five percent of Wisconsin soybeans are exported with much of that demand being driven by China. Two out of every 3 soybean rows are sent to other countries.
  • Wisconsin is home to family businesses that are major exporters of Wisconsin soybeans. The DeLong Company, based in Clinton, is one example. For more than 100 years, this family owned and operated business has grown to become a major supplier of Wisconsin family farmer grown soybeans serving U.S. and world-wide markets.
  • Today, the average U.S. farmer feeds 155 people. In 1960, a farmer fed just 26 people.

Fun

  • One acre of soybeans can make 82,368 crayons.
  • Soy-based products can include: wood stains, concrete stains, caulking, paint, insulation, foam, candles, beauty supply products and much more!
  • More than 90 percent of America’s daily newspapers use soy ink.
  • Biodiesel is a clean burning fuel produced from U.S renewable resources, including soybeans.
  • Biodiesel is building demand and adding value for soybeans, creating green jobs and decreasing the use of foreign oil.

Sources: The Soyfoods Council, United Soybean Board, USDA ERS, FAO, EPA, Reuters, USDA Census of Ag, USDA, Wisconsin 2012 Agricultural Statistics, FAS, ASA and SoyStats.com