Although bigger often means better in today’s world, soybean farmer Jonathan Gibbs understands the value of small quantities at a premium price.
“I like high yields like anyone else, but I’m just as interested in value,” says Gibbs, who farms with his wife, Karen, near the town of Fox Lake in southern Wisconsin.
The Gibbs family has built a profitable farming enterprise based on 1,100 acres of corn, wheat and soybeans, including some identity-preserved (IP), food-grade soybeans.
Identity preservation (IP) is key to selling non-GMO soybeans — and getting the premium price for them — but finding specialty markets isn’t always easy.
Like Gibbs, U.S. soybean farmers can increase their profitability by taking advantage of unique demand from various end users, which varies by region and location. In addition to food-grade soybeans, multiple premium options exist, such as high oleic and non-GMO soybeans.
These premium products are in demand, but those markets can be hard to locate and navigate, especially because the window of opportunity is often small.
Recognizing the need to help farmers with these markets, soybean checkoff organizations are promoting SoybeanPremiums.org. This website helps connect premium soy buyers with farmers wanting to produce premium soybeans.
And it works.
“The IP soybean industry is still a niche, and information is hard to come by,” says Mark Albertson, Illinois Soybean Association director of strategic market development. “The website helps to fill that information void.”
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Since its initial launch, the website has expanded and brought on more partners, including state soy checkoff boards (Indiana, Iowa and Michigan), the United Soybean Board, the U.S. Soy and Export Council and other checkoff organizations.
With information like this at their fingertips, farmers can more easily access these pockets of demand and maximize the value of their crop. And this website isn’t the only option for farmers looking to grow premium beans.
Gibbs’ father initially found out about the opportunity for food-grade soybeans through networking with a fellow farmer. After several years of producing these beans, the younger Gibbs has found that the little bit of extra effort is worth it.
“Although growing food-grade soybeans isn’t for everyone in every area, I’m glad that it is part of our farm,” Gibbs says. “Our hard work has paid off in good premiums for the product we’re growing.”