Sustainability is more than a buzzword for the U.S. Soy industry. This story is part of an ongoing series that focuses on the demand for sustainability from all industry sectors. With heavy demand for a responsibly grown product both at home and abroad, the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) is continually demonstrating its commitment to sustainability in all sectors of the U.S. Soy industry. Toward this goal, USSEC has been assembling and hosting teams of soy processors and end users on missions to the U.S. to educate and demonstrate sustainability at every level of the U.S. Soy industry and to promote the U.S. Soy sustainability Assurance Protocol (SSAP). 

A group of Japanese food company executives with an interest in learning more about the sustainable methods of U.S. Soy production traveled with USSEC representatives in June to Arkansas and Missouri to better understand the U.S. Soy supply chain. 

One of the first stops on the mission was at the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Missouri.

The team was impressed with the overall organization and systematic structure of the U.S. Soy sustainability system. The members were assured about the stable and reliable supply of U.S. Soy through the industry visits in terms of sustainability.

After a briefing on USSEC and sustainability topics, the group was able to tour Monsanto’s Climate Corporation.

One member mentioned that until this visit, they had never realized the impact of forest and trees around the soybean fields although they had been visiting soybean farms for decades. 

The trade team participants viewed the short course at the University of Arkansas Office for Sustainability (OFS) as the most valuable experience of trip due to the sustainability subject being a new idea to most of the members. The mission of the OFS is to motivate, facilitate and coordinate innovation and change through partnerships with faculty, staff and students to create a culture of sustainability.

The Japanese Soy Buyers Workshop was hosted by the University of Arkansas Resiliency Center.

The trade team course provided the opportunity to learn the basic principles as well as frank discussions about sustainability with the team members and industry experts.

“We discussed that the Japanese consumer is not too tuned into sustainability,” says Marty Matlock, executive director of the University of Arkansas Resiliency Center and professor of ecological engineering. “There was a lot of business-to-business interest and seeing the U.S. sources and practices was good first-hand information that they can use in their relationships.” 

These trade visits are crucial to the progression of USSEC’s overall vision and mission to continually demonstrate U.S. Soy farmer’s commitment to sustainability in all sectors of the industry. 

“The trip was clearly valuable for the stakeholders and painted a positive picture of U.S. Soy,” says Eric Boles, director of the OFS and executive secretary of the University of Arkansas Sustainability Council. “Just being engaged in the sustainability conversation shows a level of respect from an industry. We provided more of a general overview than a sales pitch, but it’s possible that the stakeholders take us seriously because of our unbiased presentation style.”

These experiences broaden the buyers’ knowledge and make it possible to assure the stable supply of U.S. soybeans that Japan relies on heavily.