This industry consists of establishments primarily engaged in the production of soybeans.
Soybeans are the second largest cultivated crop in the United States, behind corn, with more than 70 million acres harvested annually (74.6 million acres in 2006, an increase from the previous year's 71.3 million acres). This supports the United States' position as the world's largest exporter and provider of both vegetable oil and protein-based feed. In 2006 the United States produced more soybeans than any other country, for a total 2006 value of $19.8 billion, up from 2005 total of $17.3 billion. More than 80 percent of the crops are in the Upper Midwest with the highest 2006 production totals in Iowa (510 million bushels), Illinois (482 million bushels), Minnesota (319 million bushels), Indiana (284 million bushels), Nebraska (251 million bushels), and Ohio (217 million bushels).
Soybeans, which possess high quantities of protein, and soybean products are used in a wide range of food and industrial products. Soy products have three major divisions: soy oil products, whole bean products, and soy protein products. Food products include baby food, cereal, diet foods, imitation meats, processed meats, soy sauce, tofu and miso, salad dressings and margarine, cooking oil, candy, and baked goods. Soybeans are used in pet foods and as the leading source of protein meal for U.S. livestock. Industrial uses for soybeans include wallboard and plywood, medicines, soaps and disinfectants, pesticides, fertilizers, candles, linoleum, varnish, fire extinguisher fluid, and paint. Crops are typically planted in May and early June with harvests in late September and October.
Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc., of Johnston, Iowa, a DuPont subsidiary, is the industry leader. Founded in 1926, Pioneer had about 5,000 employees and revenues of $1.8 billion in 2005 sales. Behind Pioneer is Delta and Pine Land Co. (DLP) in Scott, Mississippi, which posted 2006 sales of nearly $418 million with more than 500 employees and Milan, Ohio-based Schlessman Seed Co. $19 million in 2005 sales.
The 2002 Census of Agriculture, updated every five years by the U.S. Census Bureau, reported an estimated 317,611 soybean farms, down from the 1997 total of 367,300 soybean farms. The number of acres harvested grew from about 68 million to 72 million as did the number of bushels (2.56 billion bushels in 1997 to 2.71 billion bushels in 2002). Soybean farms of greater than 500 acres comprised only 12 percent of the total number of soybean farms while 58 percent were from 25 acres to 249 acres.
Dun & Bradstreet reported in 2006 that the industry's estimated 11,501 establishments posted annual sales of nearly $1.7 billion with about 20,670 employees. Mississippi soybean farmers led with nearly $472 million in sales followed by Illinois with $136.9 million in sales and Ohio in third with about $126 million in sales.
Federal policies have affected the output and price of U.S. soybeans. The government has supported soybean prices by setting the bottom price for both soybeans and other competing crops. Under the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Commodity...