Every year, the tiny northwest Missouri town of Norborne celebrates soybeans during its annual Soybean Festival, held in early August. Norborne is the self-proclaimed Soybean Capital of the World and soybeans are the state of Missouri’s No. 1 cash crop, vital to the daily lives of this town’s residents.

Norborne is also my hometown. The official population of 708 does not reflect those of us who live outside the city limits – many of us grow soybeans in this mostly rural area. I’ve been farming soybeans and corn for more than 25 years near Norborne.

Soybean Festival Video



Soybean Capital of the World

In 1868, Norborne Coats, a civil engineer for the railroad, founded a community nestled near the edges of the Missouri River, prime farm country. This small town, Norborne, is rooted in agricultural heritage. We say it has more square feet of soybeans planted than anywhere else in the world, and so we call it the Soybean Capital of the World.

In 1982, the Norborne Soybean Festival was born, providing the town with an opportunity to celebrate its tradition, community, and history.

Norborne Soybean Festival

The soybean festival helps the community to share the importance and reach of soybeans. Residents from Norborne and nearby communities come together for this carnival. There are so many great activities for young and old alike: A parade. Rides. A kiddie parade. A washer tournament. Square dancing. Games. Live music. A kids’ pedal tractor pull. A watermelon eating contest. Karaoke. A crop contest. And that’s just naming a few of the festival’s activities!

Oftentimes, folks who grew up in Norborne and have moved away come back for this weekend of fun, food, and family.

Family of Soy

This year, several panelists representing state and national soy organizations took part in a roundtable discussion to talk with and answer questions from festival attendees about where the U.S. soybean industry stands today, and more importantly, where it is heading in the future. Trade, emerging markets, domestic markets, new uses, and boosting profitability for soybean farmers were topics.

I was honored to be part of this discussion along with my neighbors and fellow farmers.

  • Meagan Kaiser from my neighboring town of Bowling Green is a director for the United Soybean Board (USB), and she spoke about how the checkoff promotes the U.S. Soy Advantage to customers of U.S. Soy: exceptional composition, consistent supply, sustainable farming, and innovation beyond the bushel.
  • Gena Perry from the American Soybean Association’s (ASA) World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) talked about the impact that soy is having on developing countries. Gena is the project director for WISHH’s AMPLIFIES Ghana project.
  • Ronnie Russell from nearby Richmond is a director for both ASA and the Missouri Soybean Association (MSA). Ronnie discussed how policy development and its implementation help soybean farmers and their communities not only in Norborne and Missouri, but also throughout the U.S. These policies also help U.S. soy customers, particularly regarding trade.
  • Gary Wheeler is the executive director MSA. Gary concentrated on not only the state’s needs for the market and farmers, but also on its collaborations with national soy groups that benefit customers.
  • Doug Whitehead, the Chief Operating Officer of the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) discussed biodiesel, a U.S. soy innovation.
  • As a former director for USB and the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC), I talked about how we are continuing to grow international markets for U.S. Soy.

High Oleic Soybean Oil Used for Fish Fry

In addition to discussions about soy, food was also on the agenda. Around here and in many areas of the United States, fish fries are a tasty way to get folks together.

This year, we fried the fish in high oleic soybean oil.

High oleic soybeans are one of the most recent achievements in U.S. soy innovation. Because oil from high oleic soybeans can withstand most high-heat situations, high oleic soybean oil can be used to fry foods without worrying about the oil breaking down and altering taste.

In addition to its neutral taste, high oleic soybean oil offers another important advantage:  an improved fat profile.

Showcasing U.S. Soy

It’s our pleasure to bring together folks during the Norborne Soybean Festival. We look forward to this event each year and, even in challenging years like this one, showcasing our top crop.