Wednesday, April 30, 2014

From Roads to Rows, Farmers Keep Busy with Planting

While cruising along the open road this month, especially in rural areas, don’t be surprised if you suddenly find yourself driving behind a tractor. Farmers are hard at work planting this year’s crops and often need to use the roads to get to all their rows. 
Sebree farmer and United Soybean Board Director Keith Tapp reminds motorists to be on the lookout when sharing the road this spring. Nearly 60 percent of highway fatalities occur on rural roads, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

“When I am meeting someone where there is traffic behind me, I will pull over to the side of the road to allow them to pass,” says Tapp. “However in some cases, the shoulder of the road will not allow me to do that.”
Farming happens to be quite a strong economic driver in Kentucky. In soybeans alone, Kentucky farmers harvested 1.6 million acres in 2013, amounting to 81 million bushels at a value of more than $1 billion, making it the fourteenth-largest soybean-producing state in the country. 
These miracle beans have many uses. Poultry and livestock farmers use almost all of the meal from Kentucky soybeans in feed for their animals. Most soybean oil gets used by the food industry as frying oil or in baked goods, salad dressings, margarine and more. 
Soybean oil can be used to make biodiesel, a renewable alternative to petroleum diesel that helps drive rural economies. It is also used in a hardwood plywood product sold at Home Depot, a line of Sherwin-Williams paint, a wood stain from Rust-Oleum and many more everyday products. 
Farmers maintain a consistent supply of food, feed, fuel and fiber every year, so return the favor by staying alert on the roads to ensure farmers’ safety and the safety of others. 
Planting season is a crucial time when farmers need to start out on the right foot. Risk comes with many of the decisions they make, such as choosing seed varieties, planting date, row spacing and herbicide use.
“We choose our vocation and love what we do, but in order for our crops to perform at optimum levels, we need to plant them by a certain date in ideal soil conditions,” says Tapp. “In Kentucky, ranking second in agriculture exports, soybeans are used in products all around us and continue to support the state’s economy year after year.”
On top of that, American farmers are increasingly doing more with less, managing to get more out of every acre they plant. U.S. soybean yields have increased 53 percent between 1980 and 2012, according to Field to Market data in the U.S. Soybean Export Council U.S. Soy Sustainability Assurance Protocol. 
The 70 farmer-directors of USB oversee the investments of the soy checkoff to maximize profit opportunities for all U.S. soybean farmers. These volunteers invest and leverage checkoff funds to increase the value of U.S. soy meal and oil, to ensure U.S. soybean farmers and their customers have the freedom and infrastructure to operate, and to meet the needs of U.S. soy’s customers. As stipulated in the federal Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soy checkoff.
For more information on the United Soybean Board, visit