Family Ties Help Bind

USB Staff Writer

USB Staff Writer

United Soybean Board

U.S. farming families show European farming families the benefits of biotech

More often than not, a good answer to a questions comes down to telling a simple story. So, to illustrate how U.S. soybean farmers use biotechnology to be more sustainable, Doug Winter told policymakers and farmers in the European Union (EU) about his family.

“They looked astonished when we talked about how we have children who are either coming into the farming operation or would inherit the farm and are going to hang onto it,” says Winter, who raises soybeans, corn, wheat and grain sorghum in southern Illinois. “And we talked about how important it was for us to leave that farm in better shape.”

As always, it was stories about the importance of taking care of the land, air and water for future generations and how biotechnology helps U.S. farmers do this that made the biggest impact on both the EU farmers and officials, says Winter.

These discussions took place this past spring when Winter and fellow USB farmer-leader Woody Green from South Carolina took time from their own planting schedules to represent U.S. soybean farmers at checkoff-supported farmer-to-farmer biotech meetings in the EU. They met with EU farmers to talk about why their U.S. counterparts use biotech crops, and how these varieties help with soil conservation and chemical and nutrient use – two issues for which EU farmers are heavily regulated. These meetings encourage EU farmer organizations to support biotech acceptance and provide governmental officials there with a more personal look at the science. But that’s not all they do.

“There conversations help us to better understand our customers – what they are dealing with, what their concerns and needs are,” Winter says.

And hopefully, they help U.S. soy’s customers in the No. 2 export market better know the U.S. farmers behind the soybeans, too.

Pictured above: South Dakota soybean farmer Kevin Scott, Illinois soybean farmer Doug Winter, second from right, and South Carolina soybean farmer Woody Green, third from right, stand in a field in Ireland explaining the benefits that U.S. farmers receive from planting biotech varieties to European farmers during a farmer-to-farmer biotech mission in the European Union.