No question, corn and soybean meal have long been vital staples of swine diets. While corn prices soar, and will continue to do so, soybean meal may provide some relief.

Of course available supplies are tied to actual soybean acres and how much of those stay out of corn's growing grip.

Like ethanol, demand for soybean-based biodiesel has soared in recent times. Some 75 million gallons of biodiesel was produced and sold in 2005, with estimated 225 million gallons produced and sold in 2006. That said, it’s worth noting that the growth of soy oil for biodiesel production will impact the meal side as well.

“To fulfill the increased demand for biodiesel, more soybeans will have to be crushed, resulting in additional soybean meal supplies,” says George Martin, United Soybean Board soybean meal task force chairman. "This leads to the question: ‘What will happen to all the additional soybean meal?’”

To determine that, USB's Soybean Meal Task Force commissioned a comprehensive study, “Soybean Meal Evaluation to 2020.” The 250-page report serves as an information resource and planning tool to outline  possible future scenarios for demand and customer needs. The study found that soybean meal's future will be influenced by many factors, such as petroleum oil prices, export markets, global animal agriculture production, competition from alternative feed ingredients and improved compositional traits for soybeans.

It reported that the increased domestic crush to produce more oil for biodiesel production could have a significant impact on exports by the year 2020. While whole beans make up most U.S. soybean exports, that may need to shift to more soybean meal in the future. Cultivating soybean meal exports will be important for soybean producers but maintaining current markets will be even more critical. This means fostering domestic animal agriculture, which consumes 98 percent of all U.S. soybean meal.

“We can’t afford to export livestock and poultry production to other countries. Bottom line, if you are a fan of biodiesel, then you need to be a fan of U.S. animal agriculture. That viability goes hand in hand,” says Martin.

The report expects U.S. animal agriculture to be able to use about 20 percent of the increased soybean meal supplies. Consequently, USB has pledged to continue supporting meat and poultry exports, as well as research to provide feed formulators with soybean meal that best fits livestock and poultry producers' needs. "Soybean farmers need to understand that their success is tied to domestic animal agriculture, and that they should support their fellow livestock farmers, when they encounter challenges to doing business," says Martin.

For more information on the report, go to USB's Web site at www.unitedsoybean.org.

Source: United Soybean Board