Years ago, a grain and livestock farmer may have simply raised crops to feed their livestock and taken the animals to market. Today’s marketplace is much more complex for farmers; such as Ryan McClure, whose family owns and operates a farm in Paulding County, Ohio. Ryan and his family remain active in the Ohio agriculture community as Ryan serves on the Ohio Pork Producers Board of Trustees and his dad, Terry, serves on the Ohio Soybean Council Board of Trustees.
The soybeans they grow are not even being processed domestically, rather, they are part of the growing demand for soybean exports. In the 2013/2014 marketing year, U.S. soybean exports accounted for 62 percent of U.S. soy production.
“We grow more than 1500 acres of soybeans each year, and in recent years, our soybeans have been non-GMO commodity soybeans to fill part of that niche market,” said McClure. “Most of them will go down to the Ohio River and are eventually shipped out of New Orleans.”
While the soybeans they grow are being exported, the hogs they raise are consuming soybean meal and creating a demand for soybeans produced by fellow farmers across the state.
“We got into contract hog finishing in the past 10 years. We handle the day to day care and management of more than 8,500 hogs. The quality of the feed source, water source and environment are the top three factors to consider when raising livestock,” said McClure.
“With a few products that come from soybeans, such as oil or biodiesel, you have a tremendous amount of meal left, which is a great source of protein, and the number one use for that is livestock feed,” said McClure.
Animal agriculture is, and has been, the number one customer of our nation’s soybean farmers, using nearly 97 percent of soybean meal produced. In the U.S. alone, swine consume 7.7 million metric tons of the meal from 343 million bushels.
And with many countries around the globe experiencing economic growth, those numbers may only climb higher as the demand for high quality protein, such as pork, continues to rise.
“In my opinion, when you look at the different animal proteins, pork is a higher grade protein, but comes in at a more reasonable rate than beef. It’s a quality product at a good price,” said McClure.
Whether it’s the local need for quality feed, or the indirect consumption of soybean meal through pork exports, animal agriculture plays a vital economic role for Ohio soybean farmers.