How Soybeans Fuel the American Economy

By: Anneken Tappe · October 13, 2023 · Reading Time: 2 minutes

Sowing Success

Soybeans have become a staple crop in American agriculture, mainly due to their versatility as food, fuel, and animal feed.

They are grown in abundance in the U.S., and have become a popular export good. The single crop contributed $124 billion to the U.S. economy last year, according to the National Oilseed Processors Association and the United Soybean Board.

But the surprisingly significant soybean market is in trouble.

Tariff Blight

The U.S. has lost its dominance as the world’s biggest soybean exporter, not least because of trade tariffs.

Soybeans were pawns in the U.S.-China trade war that started in 2018, leading Beijing to turn to Brazil for its soybean needs, which in turn has become the world’s largest grower and exporter. China is a big enough consumer of soybeans to sway the market like that, accounting for roughly 60% of the global market.

Global Soybean Market

So what is going to become of American-grown soy?

Well, entrepreneurial spirit doesn’t just apply to the tech sector. Indeed, the next generation of farmers have embraced soybean production as a new frontier for innovation, exploring alternative uses for the beans including biofuels, renewable diesel, and bioplastics.

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