(April 17, 2014) – While cruising along the open road this month, especially in rural areas, don’t be surprised if you suddenly find yourself driving behind a tractor. Farmers are hard at work planting this year’s crops and often need to use the roads to get to all their rows.
Norborne farmer and United Soybean Board Director Todd Gibson reminds motorists to be on the lookout when sharing the road this spring. Nearly 60 percent of highway fatalities occur on rural roads, according to the Federal Highway Administration.
“We do our best to watch out for cars, and we ask that you help out by approaching us slowly,” says Gibson. “Most of the time we are only driving a short distance between fields and will be out of your way very soon.”
Farming happens to be quite a strong economic driver in Missouri. In soybeans alone, Missouri farmers harvested 5.5 million acres in 2013, amounting to 197 million bushels at a value of $2.5 billion, making it the seventh-largest soybean-producing state in the country.
These miracle beans have many uses. Poultry and livestock farmers use almost all of the meal from Missouri soybeans in feed for their animals. Most soybean oil gets used by the food industry as frying oil or in baked goods, salad dressings, margarine and more.
Soybean oil can be used to make biodiesel, a renewable alternative to petroleum diesel that helps drive rural economies. It is also used in a hardwood plywood product sold at Home Depot, a line of Sherwin-Williams paint, a wood stain from Rust-Oleum and many more everyday products.
Farmers maintain a consistent supply of food, feed, fuel and fiber every year, so return the favor by staying alert on the roads to ensure farmers’ safety and the safety of others.
Planting season is a crucial time when farmers need to start out on the right foot. Risk comes with many of the decisions they make, such as choosing seed varieties, planting date, row spacing and herbicide use.
“We only have a limited window to get those seeds into the ground, and weather plays a huge role in that,” says Gibson. “If heavy rain occurs after planting, a farmer’s time, seed, fuel and labor can end up being wasted.”
On top of that, American farmers are increasingly doing more with less, managing to get more out of every acre they plant. U.S. soybean yields have increased 53 percent between 1980 and 2012, according to Field to Market data in the U.S. Soybean Export Council U.S. Soy Sustainability Assurance Protocol.
The 70 farmer-directors of USB oversee the investments of the soy checkoff to maximize profit opportunities for all U.S. soybean farmers. These volunteers invest and leverage checkoff funds to increase the value of U.S. soy meal and oil, to ensure U.S. soybean farmers and their customers have the freedom and infrastructure to operate, and to meet the needs of U.S. soy’s customers. As stipulated in the federal Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soy checkoff.