Agriculture is an essential industry to the U.S. economy. U.S. soybean farmers work hard to help ensure shelves are stocked and families are fed around the world. In fact, American farmers work every day to sustainably grow 70% more food by 2050 to feed our rising population, which is expected to increase by 2 billion people over the next 30 years. Soybeans are one of the most versatile and resilient plants and in the U.S., soybeans are sustainably grown. Soybean farming involves growing genetically modified and non-genetically modified beans using both conventional and organic farming practices to meet consumer demand.
Soybean harvesting is like harvesting other crops that are grown in America. Soybeans are harvested in the fall when they’re mature. As soybeans mature, their leaves start to turn yellow, and when the leaves of the soybeans turn brown and fall off, the soybean pods are left exposed and ready to be harvested. Harvesting soybeans involves a combine, or a large machine used to harvest grains. The combine’s header harvests soybeans by cutting and collecting the soybean plants, removing their stems and pods and moving the harvested soybeans into its tank. Once the combine’s tank is full, the harvested soybeans are emptied into a grain truck or wagon and taken to a grain dealer or storage facility.
Once harvested, soybeans have a range of uses. Most farmers grow beans that are sold as animal feed or processed into soybean oil. Soybean oil uses include cooking oil, often sold at retail as "vegetable oil", or used by the food industry in products and on menus. Soybean oil also has industrial applications, and is used for rubber, lubricants and adhesives. Others grow high-protein beans that are made into soyfoods like tofu.
No matter the soybean use, for all U.S. soybean farmers, agriculture and soybean farming are more than a job – it’s their life, legacy and passion. But don’t take it from us, ask a U.S. soybean farmer yourself.