A few years ago, we made the decision to get out of the chicken business based almost entirely on our dependence on soy protein for the feed. Between the inevitable rising cost of fuel, along with the questionable sustainability of importing tons of feed from places as "near" as the midwest, and as far as South America, we didn't see a viable future in continuing.
The recent issue of Fortune has a great article running down the growth of Brazil's soy industry. Brazil is being very smart about building their industry; not only are they clustering farms, processing plants (for food, fuel, and chemicals), and animal feed operations, but they have spent the last few years designing and branding their product to capture Europe's and the US's high-end consumers, who want non-GMO soy. Big commodity handlers in the US have always said that differentiating a low-value product like soy isn't worth it, so the market looked elsewhere to meet the demand.
Towards the end is the telling paragraph....
[The US industry's lack of response to the situation] condemns the U.S. to the role of "supplier of last resort - the high-cost, low-grade producer you buy from when you can't buy the good stuff you want. That's not a good position to be in."
Despite record prices for grains of all types, it's not a good time to be a soy farmer.
Thanks for posting this, Rich. Interesting stuff! How DOES one know how to buy responsibly grown soy products, anyway? (request for new post if you have any answers - it'll be highly trafficked, I'm sure!)