ST. LOUIS -- Partnerships between U.S. seafood producers and U.S. soybean farmers continue to produce results as both seek ways to improve the U.S. aquaculture sector as a sustainable source of nutritious finfish and shellfish.
The United Soybean Board (USB), which administers U.S. soybean farmers' checkoff investments, along with state soybean checkoff boards fund projects to benefit domestic aquaculture producers.
Most of the projects fall into one of two categories, including:
* Research to enhance aquaculture production, including researching new soybean traits that to improve soybean meal characteristics for aquaculture diets and upgrading the efficiency of aquaculture production through the use of best practices and standard operating procedures at critical control points, and
*Working through the National Aquaculture Association, the checkoff helps to promote U.S. aquaculture's health, economic and environmental benefits, including educating consumers, the food industry and health care professionals on the benefits, conducting workshops to teach farmers how to improve product marketing and help shape public perception at the local level, maintaining a website to serve as a central source for aquaculture information and earning positive media coverage of the U.S. aquaculture sector.
The soybean checkoff supports the U.S. animal agriculture and aquaculture sectors, which are the leading consumers of U.S. soybeans. USB recently created a special initiative to help further increase demand for U.S. soy by helping develop the aquaculture market. Checkoff-funded research shows the growing sector has the potential to use millions of bushels of U.S. soy in the future.
Protein-rich soybean meal proves to be a sustainable replacement for the fishmeal traditionally used in aquaculture feed rations. Feeding soybean meal instead of processing fish meal will help prevent depletion of certain wild fish populations.
"U.S. soybean farmers support the interests of all U.S. animal farmers, including aquaculture producers, in order to help protect our number one market for our crop," USB Director and soybean farmer David Wilson said. "We're interested in making U.S. soybean meal as good as it can possibly be for our customers."
Health experts at the American Heart Association and other organizations recommend people eat finfish or shellfish twice a week.
However, the United Nations says the world's wild fish population won't be able to meet the demand. U.S. aquaculture producers can help fill the gap, meeting the demand that nature cannot.
USB is made up of 69 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.
For more information on the United Soybean Board, log on to www.unitedsoybean.org.