2024 Logan County
Spring Farm Magazine

Another Year, Another Crop: What’s in store in 2024 for soybean farmers

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[March 31, 2024]   Situated in the center of the state – Logan County is home to Chestnut, the geographical center of Illinois – our county is prime agricultural real estate of flat ground and black soils. Logan County has nearly 700 farms and more than 350,000 acres devoted to agricultural production – with nearly half of those 350,000 acres claimed by soybean production.

An economic driver for the state for 100 years, the soybeans I grow right here in Atlanta support a number of industries, including livestock production and renewable fuels, and are a mainstay in the state’s global exports.

But what does that mean for Logan County farmers like me, especially with spring planting just around the corner? And how can farmers here in Logan County further the county’s production and export of soybeans?

Illinois Leads the Nation

For 100 years, Illinois has been a leader in soybean production. Beginning in 1924, just as soybean production was beginning to take hold in the U.S., Illinois took the lead and never looked back.

Through most of the 1930s, Illinois produced more than 50% of the nation’s soybeans. This is due in large part to leading research from the University of Illinois Extension. Suitability of the soybean to the climate and changing cropping systems in Illinois also played a key role as well as leadership in soybean crushing, particularly by Staley Manufacturing in Decatur. Development of combines for harvesting soybeans, and an ongoing commitment to research and development of soybeans and soybean varieties by various departments at the University of Illinois, further increased soybean acres in Illinois.

Today, Illinois still leads the nation, ranking as the top soybean-producing state in nine of the last 10 years. In fact, Illinois leads the nation in acres planted to soybeans – averaging 9.8 million acres – in the last 20 years. Here at home, Logan County is ranked no. 13 among the state’s 102 counties for soybean production.

The soybeans grown in Logan County – nearly 11 million bushels’ worth – and throughout Illinois feed livestock, create biofuels and are exported overseas, maintaining demand for farmers like me.

2024 Soybean Outlook

Still, despite our ability to grow more soybeans than ever before, I’m still faced with a number of complications and challenges to deliver high-quality soybeans on the global market.

Changing weather patterns have played a large role in past growing seasons – from wet springs to prolonged drought. Weed pressures and chemical control have been difficult to navigate as options become less effective. Markets have taken a hit recently and drive many decisions for crops to be planted this spring. Across the board, evaluating environmental and market outlooks for this upcoming growing season, it will be interesting to see how many soybeans acres will be planted.

For example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) 2024 Commodity Outlook calls for a reduction in commodity crop acres this year, due in part to lower commodity prices and increasing interest rates.

Specific to soybeans, the USDA’s outlook calls for higher use, ending stocks, and supplies –in fact, supplies are forecast to climb to 4.5 billion bushels, up 8% from the 2023 crop year – a recipe for lower prices for farmers.

Here in Logan County, I’m expecting a slight increase in soybean acres due to soybeans offering a better net return per acre when compared to corn. I think the increase will be minimal because crop rotation is extremely important to Logan County farmers, and spreading out our risk while decreasing potential pest problems in our crops is a big plus.

Driving Demand

Roller coaster markets are nothing new. And, despite lower prices, demand for soybeans and soybean products remains high. The U.S. crush capacity – the process of making soybean meal for livestock feeds and other products – is going up, driving demand both domestically and internationally. And lower prices will likely further international demand for U.S. soybeans.

Renewable biodiesel also will continue to drive soybean oil demand, with that market growing by 8% to 14 billion pounds. Additionally, Illinois will send around half of the soybean oil the state produces into the food industry – a vital market for continued demand.

Despite higher supplies and dipping prices, growth in these areas of the soybean market are bright spots – and potential opportunities – for farmers looking at the stability and potential growth of the soybean market.

2024 and Beyond

I’ve farmed in Logan County for more than 44 years and I can say, without a doubt, the only thing constant in farming is change. As a long-time member of the Illinois Soybean Association – and now, as board chair – I’ve gotten a firsthand look at how we change.

Instead of adhering to the “this is the way we’ve always done it” mantra, farmers like me have chosen to embrace and champion changes in consumer tastes by adding sustainability programs and higher efficiency and higher quality products as we modernize our farms and look for new ways to drive demand and profit.

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Paying attention to a few key factors can help farmers stay ahead of the curve and take advantage of the rapidly changing soybean market:

Focus on Quality

For most farmers, potential yield is the determining factor when choosing seed and other parameters. And while yield is definitely still important, the global marketplace continues to place increasing importance on soybean meal and oil quality.

In fact, soybean oil quality will be an important production grade to stay competitive in the marketplace. As consumer demand grows, research will continue to develop studies examining soybean production return on investment, with a focus on quality alongside yield. Regional opportunities could be available for farmers to take advantage of this space.

Growth of Biofuels

Biodiesel has been around for a while and will continue to drive demand in the renewable fuels market. But the latest entrant to this space – sustainable aviation fuel – will likely add to soy demand for biofuels’ strong upward trend.

Consumers Want More Protein
The world’s growing population needs additional protein, and I’m not just talking about animal protein. While animal protein will likely remain a mainstay, of which soybeans are an important feed source (here in Illinois, livestock are the no. 1 consumer of soybeans), alternative proteins for human consumption are on the rise. Soybeans are uniquely poised to answer the call for both.

The U.S. Needs Global Buyers

Illinois’ soybean growers have long delivered a high-quality product to our global buyers. To continue to build these important relationships, the Illinois Soybean Association invites global buyers to Illinois farms annually, showing them how farmers like me raise soybeans in environmentally conscious ways.

Here to Stay

A less-than-positive outlook on commodity prices is never pleasant, especially heading into planting. Still, for soybean farmers like me, there’s still much to appreciate about the role soybeans play in our local, state, regional and global economies.

As farmers, we work to raise high-quality products that feed and fuel the world and organizations like the Illinois Soybean Association work to ensure we have places to sell our products, ensuring soybeans are here to stay, supporting families like mine this year and for many years to come.

[Ron Kindred
Board Chair, Illinois Soybean Association
Logan County Agricultural Producer]

Ron Kindred, from Atlanta, Ill., is Chairman of the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA). He farms with his wife, Jayne, and son Jay, raising soybeans and corn. Kindred is a previous ISA director, having served the association for 13 years, including time as vice president, secretary and legislative chairman and participation in several committees. He was also a past chairman of Illinois Soybean Growers (ISG) SoyPac and a Soy Advocate for ISG’s Voice for Soy program. Kindred also represented Illinois on the American Soybean Association board and was both vice president and secretary for that group. He is active with Illinois Farm Bureau and has served as President of East Lincoln Farmers Grain Co-op and Atlanta Township Trustee.

Read all the articles in our new
2024 Spring Farm Magazine

A new day, a new season....What lies ahead for Logan County farms 4
Farm Bureau Ag Scholarships help shape the future of young agricultural leaders 8
Understanding El Nino and La Nina Phenomena and Their Impact on Central Illinois Weather 12
Producers will need a watchful eye on budgets and costs in 2024 18
SB 2668 an important strategy for protecting Illinois farms 20
Another Year, Another Crop:  What's in store in 2024 for soybean farmers  
Logan County native Reagen Tibbs joins local university of Illinois Extension 32
Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy in 2024 38
2023 Crop Yields Report 44


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