According to the latest survey of U.S. soybean farmers conducted by the United Soybean Board (USB) and soybean checkoff, the farmer-respondents identify strongly with the sustainability movement and have or may be willing to make changes on their farms that will help make the entire U.S. soybean industry even more sustainable.

Nearly two-thirds of the farmers who participated in the most recent producer attitudes survey (64 percent) reported having made on-farm changes that will make them more sustainable, an 11-point jump over last fall’s survey. Of those who responded as having made sustainable changes, 84 percent said they practice sustainability because they believe they’re the stewards of the land and it’s the right thing to do, and 80 percent believe those changes will enhance their bottom line.

The soybean checkoff believes sustainability can play a large role in the efforts to feed a growing global population. An overwhelming majority (82 percent) of farmers surveyed said they feel an obligation to help feed starving people in other countries.

“U.S. farmers consider sustainability to be a priority and the soybean checkoff’s Sustainability Initiative reflects that belief,” said USB Communications Chair Vanessa Kummer, who practices reduced tillage on her family’s farm in Colfax, N.D. “In order to meet global food needs now and in the future, USB will continue to lead efforts of U.S. soybean farmers to provide the increased food, feed and fuel that will be needed in the future. Soybeans, as a crop, are sustainable and will be a part of the solution of feeding a growing population.”

The federal law that created the soybean checkoff nearly 20 years ago requires evaluation of checkoff-funded programs. Conducted independently, USB farmer-directors use the producer attitudes survey to help guide their decisions on how to invest checkoff funding.

As part of this survey, soybean farmers were asked about a soybean checkoff return-on-investment study conducted earlier this year. The study found that the soybean checkoff has returned $6.40 in additional profits to U.S. soybean farmers for every checkoff dollar invested. A plurality of farmers believe that figure is “about right,” relative to what they have personally experienced.

“Our responsibility as soybean checkoff farmer-leaders is to invest soybean checkoff funding on behalf of the nearly 600,000 U.S. soybean farmers,” Kummer said. “We strive to make sure the soybean farmers’ checkoff investment comes back to them in the form of increased profit opportunities. Feedback we get from farmers, including this survey, is invaluable in our efforts to ensure that all of the farmers we represent continue to receive a strong return on their checkoff investment.”

In conducting the survey, telephone surveys with 1,000 randomly selected soybean farmers from across the United States were conducted from Sept. 9-21. A sample of this type produces a confidence interval of +/- 3.2 percent.

USB is made up of 68 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. Checkoff funds are invested in the areas of animal utilization, human utilization, industrial utilization, industry relations, market access and supply. As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff.