Farmers joined Senator Tom Shipley and Jake Swanson, policy adviser to the governor, to commemorate Soybean Month in Iowa. (Left to right): Gary Langbein, Senator Shipley, ISA President Jeff Jorgenson, Swanson, Ethan Lambert and Charlie McKenna. (Photo credit: Joclyn Bushman/Iowa Soybean Association)

Relevance, importance of soybeans celebrated in August

August 5, 2021

Gov. Reynolds Signs Proclamation Recognizing Industry’s Positive Impact in Iowa

The multitude of uses and benefits of soybeans and the industry’s importance to the economic, social and environmental well-being of Iowa are touted via a proclamation signed this week by Gov. Kim Reynolds.

Soybean Month in Iowa, celebrated in August, brings attention to the versatile and valuable oilseed. From clean-burning biodiesel and feed for livestock, poultry and dairy to a popular ingredient in many foods and industrial products, uses derived from soybeans are nearly limitless.

“It’s a truly remarkable industry that continues to scale up, improve productivity, enhance its environmental footprint and bring new products to market,” says Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) President Jeff Jorgenson. “There has never been a more exciting time for the soybean industry than right now.”

Iowa farmers produced 494 million bushels of soybeans in 2020. That production is valued at more than $5.4 billion.  

The variety of soy-based products provided by grocery retailers has also increased exponentially. Unlike most plants, soy contains all essential amino acids making it a complete protein and preferred by a growing number of health-minded shoppers.  

“Protein plays an essential role in global nutrition, regardless if it’s animal- or protein-based consumption,” says Jorgenson who farms with his family near Sidney in southwest Iowa. “It’s rewarding to be part of an industry that provides a powerful source of nutrition to fuel our population and economic growth.”

Soybean meal constitutes a primary ingredient in livestock, poultry and fish feed. The product is utilized domestically and demanded by customers around the world including China, Pakistan, Philippines, Bangladesh, Mexico and Thailand. The oilseed is so popular globally that nearly 60% of U.S. soybean production is exported.

Iowa is among the nation’s leaders in soybean production. This output coincides with scaling up practices improving soil and water quality. ISA has played a critical role in progress toward achieving Iowa’s nutrient reduction strategy. It works directly with hundreds of farmers and cooperatively with numerous local, state and national partners to deploy more conservation practices on more acres. These practices include the use of cover crops, manure management, controlled drainage, reduced tillage, buffer and saturated buffers and prescriptive planting, fertilization and pest management.

ISA will celebrate Soybean Month by:

·         Promoting the many products and uses derived from soybeans through special events and promotions including renewing ISA's sponsorship of the biodiesel-powered trams at the Iowa State Fair and team buses for the University of Iowa and Iowa State University;

·         Celebrating significant events and discoveries involving soybeans and ISA courtesy of the association’s social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter @iowasoybeans and Instagram);

·         Sponsoring the soybean stop at Little Hands on the Farm at the Iowa State Fair Aug. 12-22;

·         Featuring trivia posted on the association’s Facebook page, along with the chance to win a variety of prizes; and

·         Meeting with soybean farmers at district meetings held throughout Iowa;




The Iowa Soybean Association is Driven To Deliver market demand, production research, information and insights and regulatory action benefiting Iowa's 38,000 soybean farmers and the industry. For more information, visit


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Editor’s Note:

Following are interesting facts about soybeans and soybean production in Iowa!

The soybean is a species of legume that originated in Southeast Asia. Its popularity among U.S. farmers took root in the late 1800s. By the early 1900s, acres planted to soybeans increased dramatically after George Washington Carver (a graduate of Iowa State University) discovered that soybeans are a valuable source of protein and oil and beneficial to soil quality when planted in rotation with other crops.

·         Iowa soybean production totals (2011-20)

o   2020: 494 million bushels

o   2019: 502 million bushels

o   2018: 565 million bushels

o   2017: 562 million bushels

o   2016: 571 million bushels

o   2015: 554 million bushels

o   2014: 505.7 million bushels

o   2013:  421 million bushels

o   2012: 419 million bushels

o   2011: 475 million bushels

·         Iowa soybean acreage planted in 2021 is estimated at 9.90 million acres, up 100,000 acres from the March intentions and up 500,000 acres from the 2020 planted acreage.

·         U.S. soybean planted area for 2021 is estimated at 87.6 million acres, up 5% from last year.

·         Estimated Iowa production of 53 bushels per acre on 9.82 million harvested acres, that would place Iowa’s soybean production at 520.5 million bushels. That amount would again be roughly 12% of the nation’s total.

·         U.S. soybean production projected at 4.4 billion bushels, according to the USDA’s July WASDE report on a forecasted yield average of 50.8 bushels per acre.

·         Iowa farmers rank second nationally in soybean production.

·         The soybean sector supported 280,000 paid, full-time equivalent jobs as well as an additional 78,000 family members beyond growers themselves, who support and are supported by soybean farming operations. That means 357,000 people beyond the farm gate are employed because of soybean production. (Source: National Oilseed Processors Association)

·         The value of Iowa’s soybean crop routinely exceeds $5 billion (Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture)

·         There are between 120,000-140,000 soybeans in one bushel.

·         Animal agriculture is the No. 1 customer of soybeans (when we say our customers ‘are real pigs,’ we mean it!).

·         A 60-pound bushel of soybeans yields about 48 pounds of protein-rich soybean meal and 11 pounds of oil.

·         Primary uses for soybeans

o   Soybean meal is used for feed to pigs, chickens, turkeys, cows and fish

o   Products made from soy include upholstery, crayons, newspaper ink, siding and shingles, biodegradable cleaning products, candles, paint, insulation, foam, candles, and beauty products, to name just a few.

o   Many food products – from cookies to mayonnaise – include soy-based ingredients.

o   Oil from soybeans is used in food preparation, as fuel (biodiesel) and as a pavement and asphalt sealant (lengthening the life of roads).

Learn more about Iowa soybean production on our website and through the Iowa Soybean Review. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @iowasoybeans.

The Iowa Soybean Association ( is “Driven To Deliver” increased soybean demand through market development and new uses, farmer-focused research and results, timely information and know-how and policy initiatives enabling farmers and the industry to flourish. Founded in 1964 by farmers to serve farmers, ISA is governed by a board of 22 farmers to advocate on behalf of the state’s 40,000 soybean producers, including more than 15,000 ISA farmer members and industry stakeholders.