If you ate the food you needed and wanted yesterday, have eaten and will eat again today, and know that you will have food to eat tomorrow, you have food security.

That concept applies to families, neighborhoods, cities and countries. The United Nations (U.N.) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) defines food security as “when all people, at all times, have regular and reliable physical, social and economic access to sufficient safe, nutritious and culturally relevant food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences.”

Global estimates from the FAO and other organizations show that more than 700 million people need food, especially protein. Nearly 30% of the world’s population is food insecure.1 That means they likely went to bed hungry yesterday, aren’t sure if they will eat today, and don’t know where they will get food tomorrow.

U.S. Soy is helping customers around the world, including those who can reach populations with food insecurity, take full advantage of its benefits. These efforts align with the U.N. sustainable development goal of achieving zero hunger.

I personally have seen the need for better nutrition in developing countries. Since 2016, I have served on the board for the World Initiative for Soy in Human Health, or WISHH, including the past two years as chair. WISHH works to improve global food security by presenting U.S. Soy as a protein solution in new, emerging markets. Soy checkoff investments from farmers like me are sometimes used to support WIISHH projects, which help stabilize new markets so they can grow into export markets.

U.S. Soy provides real solutions to food insecurity. The quality and reliability of the soy that my family raises in the heart of the Midwest can improve food security in many situations around the world. We live just 7 miles, or about 11 kilometers, from the Mississippi River, and some of our fields are even closer. We deliver many of our soybeans to locations on both the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, where they are loaded onto barges for the trip downriver toward the Gulf of Mexico for export.

And it makes a difference for hungry people.

What is global food security? A group of U.S. Soy farmer-leaders, partners and customers, including Roberta Simpson-Dolbeare, farmer and board member for the U.S. Soybean Export Council and World Initiative of Soy in Human Health, share their thoughts.

For example, WISHH works with Edesia Nutrition, a non-profit based in Rhode Island, that produces and distributes ready-to-use food packets that include soy flour as a source of protein. Last year, Edesia food packets reached 23 million lives in 65 countries. The business recently secured approval to increase the amount of soy in their formula.

WISHH also looks at food security from an animal feed perspective. Improving the protein level in feed for animals in turn improves the protein quality for the people consuming that animal protein. Access to protein from eggs, fish and poultry contributes to local food security.

I saw first-hand the importance of U.S. Soy protein in Ghana, where poultry producers recognize first-hand the benefits of feed that includes U.S. Soy for their birds. WISHH worked with both food and feed manufacturers to sell soy protein products to the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) in that country.

I also saw evidence of the rapid growth of aquaculture production in Sub-Saharan Africa, where WISHH trains young industry leaders in Ghana and Nigeria. Aquaculture is growing twice as fast there compared to the rest of the world.2 Wild-caught stocks are declining, but we know U.S. Soy protein makes a great fish feed. We are working to build that regional aquaculture industry.

To make an even broader impact, WISHH facilitates meetings between farmers and leadership with the FAO and WFP. Last year, I participated in these meetings in Rome, and I believe that farmers can offer valuable perspective to global food security efforts.

WISHH also hosts food dialogues with U.S. soybean farmers, our customers and global supply chain leaders. These discussions help us coordinate efforts to better provide a reliable supply of soy in ways that strengthen food security.

Our global customers want to know they will have a continual supply of protein to make productivity improvements possible in poultry production, aquaculture and more. Encouraging the use of and preference for U.S. Soy supports long-term trade that benefits everyone. But this takes multiple organizations and efforts.

I am also a new board member for the U.S. Soybean Export Council, or USSEC. Through trade missions, and I am learning how USSEC educates and enables our customers to use U.S. Soy for food, feed and more.

The Soy Excellence Centers, a program led by USSEC, supports early and mid-career protein professionals with industry-focused training. The participants in these programs all contribute to strengthening food security in their communities and countries.

In late March, I participated in an agribusiness trade mission to South Korea, where we engaged with leadership of major feed, crushing and food companies. These conversations expanded my understanding of food security, as discussions included sustainability initiatives.

In regions of the world with higher levels of basic food security, many focus on the need to ensure long-term food production. With the U.S. Sustainable Soybean Assurance Protocol, or SSAP, USSEC verifies that U.S. Soy is produced sustainably. During the last year, 70% of U.S. Soy exports carried that verification.

USSEC also offers a program that allows customers sourcing U.S. Soy through the SSAP to incorporate logos demonstrating that sustainability on their products. The Sustainable U.S. Soy and Fed with Sustainable U.S. Soy labels show the commitment of participating companies and U.S. Soy farmers to contribute sustainably to food security. For example, one of the food companies I met with in South Korea reported a 23% increase in soy paste sales volume since labeling it with the Sustainable U.S. Soy logo in 2023.

From building protein-focused businesses to address food insecurity in developing markets to demonstrating sustainability for long-term food security in established markets, U.S. Soy makes a difference. It is a privilege to observe that difference first-hand, and to be a part of ensuring that people have access to the protein they need, from my fields to their plates.


1 Tracking progress on food and agriculture-SDG indicators 2023, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2023.

2 FishStatJ Datasets (2000–2019), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.