Would you sit on a soybean?

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ST. LOUIS — New uses for soybeans are being developed with help from the United Soybean Board (USB) and soybean checkoff.

“If one area of soybean usage happens to be down one year, others may be doing fine. That’s why diversification is good,” said Dale Profit, USB director and soybean farmer from Van Wert, Ohio.

More than just feed

The numbers show that industrial uses for soybean oil continue to rise. During the 2007-2008 marketing year, nearly 80 million bushels of soybeans went to industrial uses.

In the 2008-2009 marketing year, the oil from 93 million bushels will be put to use in all kinds of products.

Each year, many proposals focused on utilizing soybeans for new purposes are brought to the attention of USB. The soybean checkoff farmer-leaders review these proposals and decide which ones have the greatest potential to build ongoing demand.

“The goal is to provide seed money for research and development in the hopes that a product will become commercialized,” Profit said.

Hitting the road

Past success for the checkoff in the area of new uses include household names, such as the Ford Motor Company.

A partnership between Ford and USB has resulted in the inclusion of soy foam in many Ford vehicles on the road today, including the Mustang, F-150, Focus and Lincoln MKS.

In addition to USB’s work with the auto industry, the checkoff farmer-leaders know that nearly every industry has the opportunity to utilize the versatile soybean in some manner. USB helps develop soy technology in the areas of plastics, lubricants, adhesives, coatings, printing inks, solvents and other emerging industrial opportunities.

“The foam seats in the Ford vehicles are a great example of how USB seed money can help get a product developed,” said Profit.

“I think soy polyols, like the ones used by Ford, are going to be a growing market for soy — there are so many ways polyols are used, and so many possibilities for the inclusion of soybean oil in them.”

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