Soybean Farmers Score Big in New Football Season PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by United Soybean Board   
Tuesday, 20 September 2011 11:45
Checkoff Helped Develop Soy-Based Component in New Turf at Kansas State

ST. LOUIS (Sept. 19, 2011) – U.S. soybean farmers – especially those in Kansas – are undoubtedly especially proud this season of the Kansas State University (KSU) Wildcats – or, more specifically, their stadium playing field.

KSU recently installed AstroTurf® GameDay Grass™ at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan. AstroTurf products include a soy-based backing called BioCel®, from Universal Textile Technologies. BioCel uses soy-based-polyol technology developed with support from the soybean checkoff.

“We love seeing our U.S. soy on the football field,” says USB New Uses program Chair Bob Haselwood, who farms about 65 miles east of Manhattan in Berryton. “The number one user of our soybeans is the animal ag sector, which uses 98 percent of our soybean meal. But soybean oil is used in a lot of things people aren’t aware of, such as paint, cleaners and turf, and the list goes on and on.”

“In fact, industrial use of U.S. soy has jumped 50 percent since 2006,” adds Haselwood.

The sustainability of U.S. soy proves to be one important reason behind its increasing popularity in new, industrial uses. More often than ever, builders and other industrial customers choose soy-based products over those made with petroleum-based chemicals.

To recognize the new soy uses milestone, the United Soybean Board (USB) and Kansas Soybean Commission held a pregame event before the Wildcats’ game on Sept. 17. The event offered the chance to hand out GameDay Grass samples to fans and talk to them about the versatility of soy.

While Kansas State became the first NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision institution to install soy-based AstroTurf, this superior surface is in use at every level of competition in facilities across the United States and Canada.

For example, the National Football League’s St. Louis Rams and Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays play on soy-backed AstroTurf. As do the baseball teams at Kansas State, Ohio State and South Carolina. The football teams at Auburn, Tennessee and Texas all practice on GameDay Grass. And the Citrus Bowl, home of the Capital One Bowl and Champs Sports Bowl games, also sports AstroTurf. Click here to see if a venue near you uses AstroTurf.

BioCel combines the oil from U.S. soybeans with recycled content to make a polyurethane product alternative to similar petroleum-based goods. According to AstroTurf, the renewable backing extends the turf’s life, enhances player safety, lessens our country’s dependence on foreign oil and improves outdoor air quality.

This is just one of the new uses for U.S. soy that the soybean checkoff supports as part of its mission to help research, develop and promote additional ways to utilize the crop. Every year, thanks in part to checkoff funding, dozens of new soy-based products reach the marketplace.

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.

For more information on the United Soybean Board, visit us at
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'Contagion' Movie Makes the Case for Modern Livestock Farming PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Laurie Johns   
Monday, 19 September 2011 09:06

I saw the movie, “Contagion,” this weekend with my daughter.  I have to say, it’s a good flick, good actors, fast-paced and slickly shot.  Without realizing it, the film makers may have inadvertently endorsed America’s modern hog farms.  For one thing, raising hogs indoors protects them from disease-carrying wildlife, the very kind that caused the cross-species viral contamination featured in the movie.

(Spoiler alert!)

In “Contagion”, Gwyneth Paltrow (‘Patient Zero’) inadvertently acquires a deadly (spreads by touch) viral infection in Hong Kong by shaking the unwashed hands of a chef  (note to all movie-goers: always wash hands before eating).  She didn’t realize this chef had just prepared a dish from a hog that was exposed to a sick bat.  This pig was apparently raised in an open-air pen, where a sick bat flew overhead, then dropped a piece of fruit it just grabbed from a banana tree.  Pigs, true to nature, eat anything.  And so the story goes…

But, what I find interesting is that the Humane Society of United States’ Wayne Pacelle is claiming “Contagion” actually makes a case for raising animals in the very conditions that put them at risk for contracting contagions from other species (  I’m wondering if he saw the same movie.

I grew up on a Century farm in Iowa and have many fond memories.  But, after seeing “Contagion,” I think Hollywood’s screenwriters could use a little ‘chore time’ on an actual, working farm to gain some perspective.

I saw birds, wild cats, stray dogs, raccoons and mice scrambling through our hog feedlot and roaming in the moonlight across our cattle pastures.  I remember the year wild dogs got our rooster (so much for my dad’s egg-laying chicken farm idea), the year rabid skunks got into the hog lot (28 shots in the stomach for us, but the hogs were vaccinated, of course), and the daily roaming of a horde of much-loved, but unvaccinated feral cats.

Things were different back then.  Today, it’s not just rabies vaccinations (three shots!)  that have improved, so has hog farming (,AAAACMzGNIE~,z fiweksx8NKGXiTGxVmXug1yWfMOUJx&bclid=69776058001&bctid=918490352001).  Farmers who choose to raise their hogs in modern livestock barns say doing so protects them from exposure to wildlife, harsh weather and viruses that can be carried by any stranger who happens to wander onto the farm.

It’s a choice.  Responsible farmers across Iowa work hard to give them to you.  There are many options for raising animals, both indoors and out.  But clearly, progress in American agriculture (versus overseas?) keeps our animals safer, our food safer and our families safer from the kind of Hollywood hysteria portrayed in “Contagion,” and the kind of ‘one size fits all’ food production model Pacelle and the HSUS hype machine condones.

--- Laurie Johns

Grassley Requests Agriculture Disaster Declaration for 27 Additional Iowa Counties PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Grassley Press   
Friday, 16 September 2011 13:46

WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley today asked U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to grant a request by Iowa Governor Terry Branstad for 27 additional counties be designated as disaster areas.  The counties sustained substantial damage from several weather events over the summer, including a major hail and wind storm in July.

“Farmers across the state have faced about every kind of challenge that summer weather can bring.  People along the Missouri River haven’t been able to assess the damage to their fields because they are still under water.  And, farmers stretching from Fremont County to Linn County have dealt with hail, wind, and drought damage,” Grassley said.  “I’ve seen this damage firsthand as I’ve traveled Iowa during the month of August.  I hope Secretary Vilsack acts on Iowa’s request as soon as possible.”

If granted, farmers in the counties of Adams, Clarke, Davis, Decatur, Fremont, Henry, Jefferson, Jones, Keokuk, Lee, Linn, Louisa, Lucas, Marshall, Mills, Monona, Monroe, Montgomery, Page, Polk, Tama, Taylor, Van Buren, Wapello, Washington, Wayne and Woodbury, and in the counties adjacent to each of those counties, would be eligible for FSA emergency loans, the Livestock Indemnity Program, and the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) Program.

Here is a copy of Grassley’s letter to Vilsack.  Branstad’s letter can be found by clicking here.

September 13, 2011

The Honorable Thomas Vilsack


U.S. Department of Agriculture

1400 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, DC 20250

Dear Secretary Vilsack:

I respectfully ask that you grant the request made by Iowa Governor Terry Branstad for a disaster designation for 27 counties in the State of Iowa as a result of severe weather including hail, drought conditions, and strong winds that were supposedly measured in some areas at over 100 miles per hour.  Not only did the strong winds damage crops, but it also caused significant damage to buildings and equipment.  The 27 Iowa counties which have been severely impacted by these weather events are Adams, Clarke, Davis, Decatur, Fremont, Henry, Jefferson, Jones, Keokuk, Lee, Linn, Louisa, Lucas, Marshall, Mills, Monona, Montgomery, Page, Polk, Tama, Taylor, Van Buren, Wapello, Washington, Wayne, and Woodbury.

Thank you for your prompt consideration of this request.


Charles E. Grassley

United States Senator

U.S. Soybeans Take the Field for Football Season PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by United Soybean Board   
Friday, 16 September 2011 13:36


U.S. soybeans can be used to make food, feed, fiber, fuel and, now, fields. Kansas State University recently installed AstroTurf® GameDay Grass™ on its football field. The turf’s backing includes soy-based BioCel®, from Universal Textile Technologies. BioCel uses soy-based-polyol technology developed with support from the soybean checkoff.

Checkoff farmer-director Bob Haselwood can tell you more about the new, sustainable turf, as well as other uses for U.S. soy that may surprise you.

Haselwood will be in the Kansas Soybean Commission’s tent before the Wildcats’ game against Kent State. Come by and join him!

Try some barbecue, play a round on a miniature golf course made with soy-based turf and other soy-based products and even take home a turf sample!

You can also find ample material for further stories. Manufacturers of industrial products increasingly use more and more soy as a replacement for petroleum-based products. You might be surprised.

DATES Saturday, Sept. 17, 3-6 p.m. Central Time
LOCATION Kansas Soybean Commission tent
Outside the southwest corner of Bill Snyder Family Stadium
Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kan.

Q&A: Agriculture and Washington with U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Sen. Charles Grassley   
Thursday, 08 September 2011 07:51

Q:        What is the farm bill?

A:        About every five years, Congress passes a comprehensive farm and food policy bill, covering a range of programs and provisions.  The last farm bill, in 2008, contained 15 titles for commodity price and income supports, farm credit, trade, agricultural conservation, research, rural development, energy, and foreign and domestic food programs including food stamps and other food programs.  Most of the federal spending for programs in the 2008 farm bill went to four of those titles.  Nutrition accounted for 76 percent of the spending.  Crop insurance was nine percent.  Farm commodity support was seven percent.  And, conservation was seven percent of spending in the farm bill, according to estimates from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.


Q:        What about the next farm bill?

A:        Debate over the 2012 farm bill is underway.  I’m a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, where several hearings have been held this year to prepare for new legislation.  In August, I held three town meetings that focused on priorities for the new farm bill.  Iowa farmers told me that they want crop insurance to be maintained even if other programs need to be reduced, given the federal budget crisis, because crop insurance is a necessary tool for managing risk.  Farmers also are concerned about disproportionate cuts to the agriculture budget.  As I’ve said, everything’s got to be on the table in the effort to reduce deficits and control spending, but the agriculture budget should be treated fairly.


Q:        How can farm commodity support be justified to taxpayers?

A:        The safety net for American agriculture is a way to make sure the United States has continued access to the most abundant and affordable food supply in the world.  Without a reliable food supply, nothing less than social cohesion and survival is in jeopardy.  The food safety net needs to be effective, efficient and responsible.  I hope the upcoming farm bill will include a farm-program reform that I’ve sought for a long time.  My farm program payment limits initiative would put a hard cap and other safeguards on payments farmers can receive from the federal farm program, including requirements to make sure those who receive payments are actively engaged in the farming operation.  The farm program was not designed to help big farmers get bigger but, today, 10 percent of the biggest farmers collect nearly 70 percent of total farm payments.  That runs counter to the goal of the farm program, which is intended to help small and medium-sized farmers – who play an important role in producing America’s food supply – weather the downturns in the agricultural economy.  The farm program needs to focus on these farmers because when a farming operation gets larger, it’s in a position to withstand tough years on its own.  The trend in farm program payments going to big farmers also has a negative impact on the next generation of farmers.  When 70 percent of farm payments go to 10 percent of farmers, it puts upward pressure on land prices and makes it a lot harder for smaller and beginning farmers to buy ground or afford to cash rent, which helps them get a foothold in farming.


Q:        How else does Washington impact the family farm?

A:        Just like other businesses and employers nationwide, farmers face headwind from heavy-handed regulations out of Washington.  During my meetings with Iowans, I hear time and again from farmers fed up with the lack of common sense behind too many of those regulations, whether it’s the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) trying to regulate the dust kicked up by the combine at harvest time or the U.S. Department of Transportation trying to treat locally-used farm vehicles like over-the-road semi-trailer trucks when it comes to licensing, permits and fees.


Farmers also need access the new market opportunities created by international trade agreements.  Congress is still waiting for a chance to pass long-readied trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.  Lawmakers can't act until the President submits the agreements.  There's no doubt that Washington needs to open new doors for agriculture to overseas exports, to generate new economic activity and opportunity.


Iowa has a lot at stake in all of these areas.  Our state is the number one producer of corn, soybeans, pork and eggs.  Cow-calf operations in Iowa produce some of the finest beef cattle in the world.  Iowa dairy farms are integral to communities statewide.


Friday, September 2, 2011

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