The U.S. soy industry recently defined the U.S. Soy Advantage to customers at a buyers’ conference held in Mexico, talking to current and potential purchasers about the U.S. soy industry’s commitment to composition, supply, sustainability and innovation.

In November, more than 130 Latin American and Canadian buyers met to gather and exchange information on the current situation for the soybean and corn marketing year. The event marked the first ever jointly held cooperators’ conference in the Americas region.

Modeled after similar events held in Southeast Asia and the Asia Subcontinent, the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) and the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) collaboratively invited end users of U.S. soy and corn products to engage in a dialogue of continuing partnerships, expanding and building markets, and solidifying their commitment to free trade agreements.

“Of course the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was a big topic of discussion,” says Kevin Roepke, USSEC Regional Director – Americas. “Additionally, participants were able to actively participate in conversations around sustainability – including how it can be applied to their businesses.”

“U.S. soy demonstrates an unparalleled commitment by the growers to sustainably and responsibly produce a product that the world can be proud of using,” Roepke explains.

One such grower is Charles Atkinson, an American Soybean Association (ASA) director, Kansas Soybean Commission director, and a producer from Southeastern Kansas. Atkinson has spent a lifetime farming and has been active in conservation, parlaying that into a career with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“We will continue to improve our farms and improve our lands,” declared Atkinson, during a panel dedicated to sustainability. “All of this is accomplished through improving our sustainability.”

Atkinson represents a growing commitment to utilizing new technologies to enhance U.S. competiveness, along with environmental responsibility.

Through embracing technologies such as no-till farming, intensive crop rotation, and transgenics, Atkinson has stayed on the cutting edge of reducing his footprint—a sentiment that is demonstrated throughout the U.S. soybean industry via USSEC’s Soybean Sustainability Assurance Protocol (SSAP).

Speaker Brittany Schaefer of Bunge North America echoed the importance of sustainability.

Schaefer talked to conference participants about specifically marketing to Millennials, who tend to be more conscientious of sustainability issues.

Participants were encouraged to share their experiences of using other U.S. competitive advantages in their businesses, leverage the U.S. soy industry’s trade and technical servicing, and learn about new developments on

Conference organizers plan to continue this forum every other year, in order to build and continue a preference for the U.S. soy in the Americas region.

(L to R): USSEC Acting Regional Lead – Asia Subcontinent Pam Helmsing, Kansas Soybean Association CEO Kenlon Johannes, and Charles Atkinson listen at the USSEC/USGC cooperators’ conference