Soybean acres will likely increase in the coming years as soybeans become more financially competitive with corn and to meet the increasing demand for protein. That's what grain and livestock experts told farmers attending the Iowa Farm Bureau's two-day economic summit in Ames last week. Farmer-leaders of the Iowa Soybean Association who attended the meeting agreed with that projection.
During livestock, crop and weather outlook seminars agriculture analysts predicted corn prices will settle back to the mid-$4-per-bushel range in years ahead -- down from $6 to $8 per bushel farmers have enjoyed in recent years. Experts said Chinese demand for soybeans will continue to remain strong and pork and poultry numbers are on the rise, which means additional soybean meal usage. This all adds up to more soybean acres in the future and many farmers returning to a true soybean-corn rotation.
"Based on market conditions, soybean acres should continue to trend upward," said Ross Korves, an economic policy analyst with Pro-Exporter Network. According to the June USDA Acreage Report, Iowa farmers planted an estimated 9.5 million acres of soybeans this year. That's up from 9.35 million acres the previous two years. USDA data shows Iowans planted 11 million acres of soybeans in 2001.
Profit potential of soybeans is shaping up to be more competitive with corn for planted acreage
Regaining 1.5 million acres lost since the beginning of the last decade will ensure the important soybean processing industry remains in the state, notes Tom Oswald an Iowa Soybean Association board member and farmer from northwest Iowa. "We need a consistent and reliable supply of soybeans, which keeps that economic engine running and in place," says Oswald, who attended the summit and farms near Cleghorn. "If that should start to sputter, our competition from around the world will increase their production of soybeans, making it hard for us to restart."