American Soybean Association: History of Work with Soy
by William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi
A Chapter from the Unpublished Manuscript, History of Soybeans and
Soyfoods, 1100 B.C. to the 1980s
©Copyright 2004 Soyfoods Center, Lafayette, California
In Chapter 2 on the History of World Soybean Production and Trade, we outlined the key role played by the American Soybeans Association (ASA, pronounced AY-ES-AY) in working with soybean growers to build America's soybean crop and soybean exports into the largest in the world. In this chapter we will trace in detail the colorful history of the ASA, placing some emphasis on the important role it has played at various points in its history in pioneering soyfoods development. Its activities include establishing the production base on which the various soyfoods industries (including soy oil) have been built, playing a very active role in popularizing soyfoods in America during the 1940s, promoting the use of soybeans and soyfoods in foreign countries since 1956, and actively working to increase awareness and use of soy oil in the U.S. and abroad since the early 1970s.
Founding (1920) and Early Years. As early as 1910 counties and states across the Midwest were holding "Soybean Days," during which soybean farmers and agricultural extension crops men from the state colleges would meet for a day, usually on a farm, and share their experiences and problems with growing soybeans. By 1920 it was deemed time to enlarge the scope to "The First Corn Belt Soybean Field Day." Organized by the Purdue University agricultural staff, aided by county agents and the USDA, the event was celebrated on 3 September 1920 in Camden, Indiana, at Soyland, a farm owned by the Fouts brothers. The Fouts brothers were already growing large acreages of soybeans (they had started in 1904) and two previous soybean days had been held on the farm in 1910 and 1916. To everyone's astonishment and delight a crowd of over 1,000 "soybeaners" (as they were then called) from six states showed up: farmers, county agents, agricultural experiment station men, members of college and university staffs, and representatives of the USDA. Many of the original pioneers were there: Morse, Burlison, Hackleman, Briggs. A contagious enthusiasm and pioneering spirit pervaded that meeting held outdoors under the trees. Speeches were limited to three minutes each and efforts were made to estimate the total soybean acreage in America. A sumptuous lunch featured soybean salads and crunchy roasted, salted soybeans (Fouts 1944). A farmers' quartet provided entertainment by singing "Growing Soybeans to Get Along." After the program, the growers present agreed that a definite organization seemed necessary and the name "The National Soybean Growers' Association" was agreed upon. (The name was changed to the American Soybean Association in 1925, but 3 September 1920 has always been considered the founding date.) Taylor Fouts, an owner of Soyland farm, was elected the first president. It was also agreed that a business session and program be held during the coming International Hay and Grain Show in Chicago (Morse 1928).
The initial purpose of the new Growers' Association was largely educational. Its main activities were to hold an annual soybean field day and meeting each fall and a business meeting each winter in Chicago (at the time of the International Livestock Exposition). It also worked closely with the agricultural experiment stations and extension departments in the various states in teaching farmers about soybeans. No membership dues were required. The first five annual field meetings were held in Indiana (1920), Illinois (1921), Missouri (1922), Wisconsin (1923), and Iowa (1924).
In 1925, during a winter business meeting at Chicago, the association, perceiving its broader mission, organized itself formally, drew up a constitution and bylaws, changed its name to the American Soybean Association, and started accepting members; dues were $1 a year from the late 1920s and $2 a year until as late as 1940. From 1920-1938 most of the officers of the ASA, the people who actually kept the organization going, were agronomists from universities in the Corn Belt; only three of the ASA presidents during this period were growers. The presidency was usually extended to the top ranking soybean professor in the state where the next annual meeting would be held. At many of the early annual meetings a vegetarian meal featuring soyfoods was served; this brought good publicity. The cost of all conferences was covered by a registration fee, which included the cost of the banquet; there were no outside subsidies.
Each annual field meeting (later called a "convention") consisted of a series of papers presented on topics of interest to soybean growers, and then a business meeting, open to the membership. The members elected the board, which then elected its own officers. Some years there was a board meeting between conventions. In the late 1920s, Keller Beeson, extension agronomist at Purdue University, became secretary of the ASA. From that time, after each convention, he had the speeches printed and sent out to members. Each year before the convention, a letter was sent out giving the program and inviting people to attend. Occasionally a newsletter was sent to members on topics of special interest. So there was little regular communication within the growing industry. In 1928 the ASA issued its first formal publication, Proceedings of the American Soybean Association, a 78-page book consisting of the papers given at annual meetings from 1925 to 1927; it was edited first by W.J. Morse, later (starting when??) by Keller Beeson when he became ASA secretary. Proceedings were issued periodically thereafter until 1940 and most the issues contained good material on early uses of soyfoods. For example, in 1926 at the seventh annual field meeting in Stoneville, Mississippi, W.J. Morse stated that "Food companies in the Northeast have for several years manufactured special soybean flour products . . . Soybeans are now being made into breakfast foods, soy flour, soy sauce, and bean curd." In 1928 the ASA won its first legislative victory in joining with other organizations to get a tariff levied on low-cost imported soybean cake and meal, to protect the young industry. In 1929 ASA met in Canada and went international.
Expansion in the 1930s. During the 1930s, ASA slowly expanded its activities. It aided in the enactment of a stronger protective tariff in 1930 covering soybeans, oil, and meal; sponsored a display of 200 soyfoods at its annual convention at Washington, D.C. in September, 1932; supported the establishment of the Regional Industrial Products Laboratory at Urbana, Illinois, in 1936; and joined with the railroads to sponsor Soybean Exhibit Cars and Soybean Trains that toured the Midwest in the late 1930s. At the annual conventions, there were often papers presented on soyfoods; in 1935, for example, J.E. LeClerc of the USDA spoke on soy flour. During the 1930s a number of organizations directly involved with using soybeans as foods were established and funded by the soybean processing industry, which produced oil and meal. The ASA, which had only limited funds and personnel, supported these organizations in spirit and worked closely with them. They included the National Soybean Processors Association (1930), the Soya Foods Research Council (1936), the Soybean Nutritional Council (1938), and the Soy Flour Association (1939). These organizations opened up new markets for soybeans to be used as foods and helped give soyfoods a new or better image. Both of these activities benefitted soybean growers and the ASA.
The ASA was ready to stand on its own feet by 1939, when Glen McIlroy, a soybean grower from Irwin, Ohio and strong leader, was elected president. Since that time the Association has been run by growers, with all officers and directors from their ranks. Reflecting on the years prior to 1939, E.F. "Soybean" Johnson wrote in 1949: "For many years the Association existed mainly through the untiring efforts of W.J. Morse of the USDA . . . ably assisted by many other university agronomists: Burlison, Hackleman, Beeson, Hanger, Parks, Hughes, Dyas, and Briggs." Taylor Fouts reminisced in 1944: "I don't believe the old mainspring W.J. Morse has missed a single meeting, at least not of his own volition . . . You cannot meet Burlison, Hackleman, or Bill Riegel of Illinois without talking soybeans. George Briggs of Wisconsin is still his old soybean story self."
The 1940s and George Strayer. The year 1940 proved to be a turning point for ASA. The annual September meeting was hosted by Henry Ford at Dearborn, Michigan. Everyone toured Ford's soybean fields, saw one of the small solvent extraction plants Floyd Radford had developed, and heard of plans to use soybeans in plastic car bodies. The board of directors at its meeting discussed the need for a mimeographed newsletter to go to Association members. A young member of the board, George Strayer, suggested that perhaps the industry had reached the stage where it could support a small magazine (rather than a newsletter), which might be at least partially supported by advertising. At that time Strayer, in addition to farming, was editing a
magazine for a group of hybrid corn companies. The board then made two of its biggest decisions to date: to employ an executive secretary and to have him publish a magazine. Strayer wrote in 1970:
Not only was I to plan, write, edit, and publish the magazine, I was to select the name for it, sell the advertising, and also serve as executive secretary of the organization . . . the first paid employee. The pay was every cent the Association could afford at that stage--$50 a month, so long as the Association stayed solvent.
Because Strayer happened to live near the small rural town of Hudson, Iowa, ASA made its headquarters there until 1978, when it moved to its present location in St. Louis. For most of the 27 years, until his retirement in 1967, George Strayer was the continuity and backbone of the ASA, and a key figure in the growth of the American soybean industry.
Strayer was born in 1910 on Strayer Farms in Hudson, Iowa. In 1912 his father, Bert, had planted his first crop of soybeans (thought to be the first crop of soybeans grown west of the Mississippi River) and in 1924 he attended his first ASA meeting. Strayer began to develop "an intense interest in the possibilities of this crop" (Strayer 1970). In 1930, while still a college student, he attended his first ASA meeting at the University of Illinois and met leaders of the industry. He then knew that he had found his "real interest for the future years." At Iowa State College (now University) Strayer majored in agronomy with a minor in journalism. He was on the staff of the Iowa Agriculturalist (the college of agriculture publication) for three years and was editor his senior year. After graduation in 1932 Strayer returned to the family farm and went into partnership with his father, both farming and running the on-farm seed business. In 1937 he was first elected to the board of directors of the ASA; his father had been on the board since the early 1930s. Initially, from 1940, Strayer worked only part time for the ASA, at $50 a month; he was also active as secretary-manager of an organization of hybrid corn seed producers, whose magazine he had edited since 1937. Prior to 1940 he had an office in a former grocery store building in Hudson; the ASA shared that space for the first few years. In 1945, while Strayer was in the Army and his wife was serving as secretary of the ASA, the office was moved to a larger building in Hudson, where it remained until the ASA built its own office building in 1964. Following his employment with the ASA from 1940-1967, Strayer ran Agricultural Exports Inc. and Strayer Seed Farms, both involved with soybeans. He was a popular speaker at Soycrafters Conventions, offering sound advice to a young organization struggling with the same types of problems he had learned to deal with in the early days of the ASA.
In November 1940 the first issue of the ASA's new magazine, Soybean Digest, rolled off the presses. It was 14 pages long and explicitly dedicated to serving every branch of the soybean industry, growers, and processors alike. Strayer, as editor, promised readers "The bold, unexpurgated, unbiased, and unprejudiced truth." The ASA required that the magazine be self-sufficient, supporting itself entirely by selling advertising. Membership income was kept separate from magazine income. When Strayer started, the ASA had 400-500 members. The first year, advertisers were guaranteed a circulation of 1,000; the next year 2,500. During these years of World War II, soybean acreage and processing grew rapidly. Strayer capitalized on this interest, using the Digest as the major point in building membership. By 1942, when membership had reached 2,500, the magazine was sent only to members. Besides serving as a communications link among members, the Digest started with two main purposes: to get soy oil accepted as a food oil, and to get soybean meal accepted as a good protein source for livestock, instead of just as fertilizer. Yet each issue up until 1946 carried 1-2 pages entitled "Soybeans . . . and People" containing soyfood recipes, plus regular longer stories about soyfoods in East Asia or America. By 1947 the magazine had grown to a length of 44-50 pages, with issues published after the annual September convention running 100-120 pages long.
By 1940, soybean production in America was growing at the rate of 20-50% a year. The crop almost doubled in size from 1941-1942. The ASA knew that its work lay not in increasing production but in developing a continuously expanding market. Because of the influence of people like Henry Ford and the Soybean Industrial Products Laboratory at Urbana, this market was thought to lie primarily in the area of industrial products, a perception that later proved to be mistaken. At that early date the ASA set a policy that it has wisely adhered to up to the present: to eschew the government price supports and acreage controls applied to corn, wheat, and cotton ?? In 1940 it passed its first resolution calling for the repeal of federal and state margarine laws (see Chapter 27).
During World War II there was a great interest in soyfoods in America. At the ASA convention of 1942, the first after the U.S. entered the war, a panel was held on "Soybeans in Human Nutrition," which "generated tremendous interest" (Pellett 1970). The Soybean Digest published the papers in the form of a booklet, which was widely circulated for 20 years thereafter. The Digest also ran many articles on soyfoods and nutrition during the war years, and actively promoted soy flour. Some 250 people attended the 1943 ASA convention and many soyfoods dishes were served. In 1946 the ASA began to formally acknowledge some of the many fine leaders which its work and the soybean had attracted. In 1946 W.J. Morse and W.L. Burlison were chosen the first two honorary life members. They were followed in 1947 by I.C. Bradley, J.C. Hackleman, and G.G. McIlroy. Besides Morse, honorary members whose work had been primarily with soyfoods included Harry W. Miller (1958) and Allan K. Smith (1963).
In 1947 the ASA published the first edition of its Soybean Blue Book, the yearbook and directory of the industry, which contained detailed industry statistics and information on the oil and meal processing industry, plus some information related to soyfoods (especially soy flour, soy oil, and some soyfoods producers' addresses.)
Even after the war interest in soyfoods remained quite strong. For example, at the 28th annual convention at Memphis, Tennessee, in 1948 several excellent papers were presented on soyfoods, one by Dr. S.S. De of the Indian Institute of Science, then doing food research at MIT (why mention??) . Some 500 guests attended the soybean banquet in the ballroom of the famous Peabody Hotel. Various American-made soyfoods (such as Stakelets and Zoykoff from Madison College) were served as part of the menu prepared by the famous European and Waldorf Astoria chef Ernest L. Vollrath.
After the war, as soybean supply lines began to fill up, ASA went to work promoting the sale and use of soybean meal for livestock feeding, trying to get margarine laws repealed (the federal tax on yellow margarine was repealed in 1950), then starting to investigate overseas markets. Half the world was hungry and in need of low cost sources of protein and oils. Yet, surprisingly, few people realized in the 1950s how huge the foreign markets would eventually prove to be. Moreover, most processors wanted to sell only end products, not soybeans, overseas.
The 1950s and Export Expansion. In the postwar years it became clear that America could produce more soybeans and soybean products than could be consumed domestically. This led to the push to open and expand export markets. In September 1949 George Strayer and Jackson Cartter comprised the first ECA (Economic Cooperation Administration) Technical Assistance Mission to Europe; the ECA was the initial operational unit of the Marshall Plan. For 5 weeks, with emphasis on Germany, they studied the possibilities of soybean production in northern Europe and particularly the potential for expanded use of soybeans as a source of protein for human nutrition. They visited oil mills, soybean breeders, and a host of others involved with soy. Their final report, submitted to the State Department, concluded that soybean production could never be a major factor there because of the climate, but that there was a huge potential market for soy oil and soy protein in many of these countries. In 1952 and again in 1954 (on a foreign trade team sponsored by USDA), Strayer returned to study the potential of western European markets.
By 1955 Japan had become America's largest single customer for soybeans, but there were problems; Japanese customers complained of high foreign matter content, did not know which varieties were suited for which soyfoods, and did not understand U.S. methods of mechanical handling and grading; Americans did not understand Japan's soybean needs and utilization. Recognizing that Japan could be a much larger U.S. customer if the problems were solved, the U.S. Agricultural Attaché in Tokyo asked ASA to send a representative to Japan. So in late 1955, with funding from the Oils and Fats Division of USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service, George Strayer spent 6 l/2 weeks in Japan talking to producers of tofu, miso, and shoyu, soy oil/meal processors, and government officials. In a 1956 edition of Soybean Digest (Ref??) he announced that "In Japan, soybeans are food!" Strayer's trip led to a milestone in ASA history, the formation in 1956 of the Japanese American Soybean Institute (JASI) which was essentially ASA's first overseas office and America's first overseas development project on soybeans or any other oilseed. A contract was signed between ASA and FAS; the funding came from Japanese yen accrued under the Public Law 480 (see Chapter 2) plus funds contributed by the soybean industry in the U.S. and Japan. JASI was composed of the five leading Japanese soybean user organizations: soy oil/meal processors, producers of tofu, miso, and soy sauce, and the oil and fat importer/exporters. Traditionally there had been no such thing as a Soyfoods Association in Japan where producers of the various soyfoods met to discuss common problems and areas of beneficial cooperation. Thus JASI opened new channels of communication among Japanese involved with soybeans as well as among Americans and Japanese. JASI established an office in Tokyo in April 1956 and hired Mr. Shizuka Hayashi as Director. Born of Japanese parents, he was bilingual and had managed a Japanese-owned soybean plant in Manchuria; he directed the Institute until 1968. JASI's first primary objective was to expand use of American soybeans in Japanese soyfoods. The first activity was an exhibit of soybeans and soyfoods at the International Trade Fair in Osaka in 1956. Working with various Japanese organizations, primarily the government's Japan Nutrition Association, JASI helped to educate Japanese housewives on the functions of protein and oil in human diets, trained nutritionists at over 900 health centers in Japan in the preparation and use of soyfoods, sent out kitchen cars to demonstrate soyfoods preparation to millions of housewives in small towns and villages, and taught tofu producers how to make soft tofu (suited to U.S. soybeans). In 1956 JASI sponsored an eight-man delegation of leading soy oil processors and importers who toured the U.S. in August and September. They observed firsthand U.S. soybean production and facilities for handling, processing, and exporting soybeans. Some of these men pioneered in the development of Japan's modern soy oil/meal processing industry, which uses mostly imported U.S. soybeans. A similar American trade group returned the visit in late 1957, making a three-week tour of the soybean industry in Japan and observing firsthand the problems of Japanese manufacturers in using U.S. soybeans in their food products. Also in 1957 JASI and the USDA/ARS sponsored Dr. A.K. Smith of the USDA Northern Regional Research Center to visit Japan; this led to a deepened understanding of mutual problems and an excellent publication on Japanese soyfoods (see Chapter 44). The next year under a cooperative agreement between ASA, ARS, and FAS, two senior Japanese scientists, Watanabe and Shibasaki, spent one year working with Dr. Smith. They investigated ways to increase the use of U.S. soybeans in Japanese soyfoods (especially tofu and miso) and studied soybean varieties particularly well suited to these foods. JASI also produced a film, "The Green Bud" showing production and consumption of soybeans, with emphasis on food uses, and worked with Kyoto University in a research study on the use of U.S. soybeans in natto. In 1961 JASI began active promotion of soy oil to replace the more widely used but more expensive rapeseed oil; by 1980 soy oil had 47% of the vegetable oil market in Japan. In 1961 JASI hosted the first team of nutritionists to study soy oil margarine in America and in 1963 it launched a campaign to promote the use of soybean meal in livestock feeding. The result of these and many other activities extending up to the present (1980-81) was an increase in soybean imports from 550,000 tonnes (20.4 million bushels) in crop year 1955, to 1.09 million tonnes in 1963 and 4.3 million tonnes in 1980. The value of these soybean imports increased from $5.4 million to more than $1 billion. Per capita consumption of edible oils increased from 6 pounds per person in 1956 (the lowest level for any industrialized country) to over 26 pounds in 1980. Meat and poultry consumption also increased sharply. To develop this Japanese market, ASA and FAS invested less than 1% of the value of the soybeans imported. Japan, then, became the first example of ASA's success in marketing soybeans abroad (Strayer 1962; Strayer 1963; Sugiyama and Griffis 1981).
After his work in Japan in 1955, George Strayer was asked by the USDA to go to Europe to do a similar study of market potentials. After visiting nine northern European countries, he returned convinced that there were large markets for soybeans, meal, oil, and flour, but that the job of opening these markets was too big for the ASA to do alone. This realization led to the establishment of the Soybean Council of America by the joint efforts of the ASA and the National Soybean Processors Association (see Chapter 45). Howard L. Roach of Iowa was chosen president. The Board of Directors and consultants mostly came from America's largest soy oil/meal processing companies. The funding came from PL 480 funds. The basic idea was to develop markets for use of soy oil in foods (most important), soy flour in baked goods, and soybean meal in livestock fees. In 1956 the Council and FAS signed a contract for market development work in Europe similar to that in Japan. The first projects were in Spain in 1957, then in Italy. By 1958 a general office for Europe was opened in Rome. By the early 1960s the Council had 18 overseas offices in 16 countries and conducted limited activities in 22 other countries. In 1961 the Council established a test kitchen in Israel for development of soyfoods, especially baked goods using 10-20% soy flour. Sonya Soya, from Frankfurt, Germany, was the ASA's food demonstrator at many fairs and receptions. The Council published a 4-page monthly newsletter of its market development activities. It was called International News from January until August 1961, when the name was changed to Overseas Bulletin. Packed with photographs of dignitaries opening new offices, signing contracts, giving speeches, tasting foods, et, it continued publication until April 1965. The Council, the first of its type to do global soybean market development for soybeans and soybean products, was disbanded in 1969. It was replaced by the American Soybean Institute, which also did market development work but had no broader representation on its board. In all of this overseas market development work the ASA, the Council, and the Institute did not take orders; they just did market development. The orders were taken by international grain trading companies such as Cargill and Continental (see Chapter 40).
The 1960s and Checkoff Funding. The 1960s was a decade of great growth for ASA. In 1962 the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association, the first affiliated state association, was founded. By 1981, 22 (now 24??) other state associations had been formed. In 1964 ASA built its first own office building in Hudson, Iowa.
A great breakthrough came in 1966. Up until that year market development activities had been funded largely by the USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service. However in 1966 soybean growers began to support their own market development (and research) activities with funds provided by state soybean grower investment checkoff programs. A checkoff program worked as follows. First ASA went to the legislature of a certain state and proposed that a law be passed allowing the checkoff system. If the law was passed by the state government, soybean growers in the state generally held a referendum to determine whether or not they will participate in the checkoff system. (Some states have legislated checkoff programs with no grower vote.) If the referendum passed, each time that any soybean grower in that state made a first sale of soybeans (usually to a grain elevator), a certain sum of money (typically ½-1 cent per bushel in 1981) was automatically deducted from the grower's check. These checkoff funds were sent to the state soybean board. Any grower not wishing to participate in the program could request that his checkoff amount be refunded. The state soybean board typically allocated its funds in three areas: roughly half went to the ASA Soybean Development Foundation to be used for market development and research; the remainder might go to sponsor state soybean research projects at local agricultural colleges. The checkoff program soon began to generate large sums of money, which allowed ASA to grow and greatly expand its activities.
The 1970s and the Move to St. Louis. By 1970 the ASA staff had grown to 45, including regional offices, and overseas staff of 19. [Redo?? By 1980 soybean grower checkoff funds contributed $5.4 million income to ASA, or 33.4% of its total income. In 1976 Dr. Kenneth Bader was hired as CEO.
The next big development came in December 1978 when ASA moved from the small town of Hudson, Iowa (which, as a large international organization, it had long outgrown) into attractive new headquarters at St. Louis, Missouri. In early 1979 its publications and education program was greatly expanded. In the mid-1970s Soybean Digest had dropped its former interest in soyfoods (allowing the Soycrafters Association's magazine Soyfoods to take over this area) and begun to focus solely on soybean production and farm management; now it has become a full-color farm trade journal with advertising for farm machinery, herbicides, and seeds. Soybean Update, a weekly 4-page soybean marketing newsletter, started in 1979. Soya Bluebook (the name was changed in 1980), published once a year, remained the world's most complete reference source on the industry (excepting low technology soyfoods), listing manufacturers, exporters, suppliers, processors, and others that serve the soybean industry. The Update, Bluebook, and Digest were sent free to members. Soyworld, a quarterly tabloid newspaper covering ASA market development and research activities, was started in February 1979 but discontinued after Summer 1981. A booklet, Contemporary Soya Recipes, by Phyllis Pearson, was published in 1977. David Erickson published many excellent studies on soy oil and in 1980 co-authored a major book, Handbook of Soy Oil Processing and Utilization, published jointly by ASA and American Oil Chemists' Society.
During the 54 years from the time of its first issue in November 1940, until November 1994, Soybean Digest published 539 articles on soyfoods. Some 499 of these (92.5%) were published before 1976 - an average of 14.6 articles a year. The remaining 40 (7.5% of the total) were published between Jan. 1976 and Nov. 1994, an average of 2.1 articles a year. So just as the interest in soyfoods in America began to increase repidly, Soybean Digest decreased its coverage.
The meteoric rise of the soybean in America, from rags to riches in only 60 years, has not just happened by itself. It has taken leadership and hard work . . . supplied first and foremost by ASA, which has grown along with the soybean industry.
Status in 1981 (84??). An outline of the ASA and soybeans in 1981 showed the following:
Major Programs. These include market development (primarily overseas), soybean research, government relations (to promote a free market), and education (through publications and conferences). ASA actively promoted traditional soyfoods in East Asia and had active and very successful programs promoting soy oil both abroad and in America. It has been reluctant to promote soy-based meat extenders or substitutes in the U.S. for fear of reducing the demand for soy protein in livestock feeds and offending farmers who produce meat. ASA's work worldwide has led to increased per capita consumption of meat, poultry, and fats (especially soy oil).
Organization. There were 24 affiliated state soybean associations. Overall policies were set by soybean growers during the annual meeting of voting delegates and by a board of directors composed of 43 soybean growers from the 24 state associations.
Membership and Funding. The ASA had 20,028 members, who paid an average of $30 per year in dues; most members were soybean growers. Membership had started growing rapidly after overseas market development began in the mid-1950s; it was only 5,400 in 1955, increasing to 5,900 in 1960, then more than doubling to 12,633 in 1970, and continuing to rise to more than 20,000 in late 1981.
In addition 475,000 soybean farmers in 23?? states invested a portion of their profits (½ cent per bushel in 14 states and 1 cent per bushel in 9 states) in market development and research activities. This resulted in about $4.7 million in market development activities and about $3.1 million in soybean research activities at the state and national levels.
Budget. Total income for fiscal year 1980 was $16.2 million compared with about $1 million in 1970. The sources were third party services (38.9%; value of matching funds and services in joint projects), soybean grower checkoff funds (33.4%), USDA's FAS funds (17.0%), membership dues and other income (5.9%), and Soybean Digest advertising income (4.8%). Total expenses were $15.5 million, going for market development (67.7%), Soybean Research (18.0%), Soybean Digest magazine (5.4%), Membership/Government Relations (4.4%), Administration (2.9%), and Information and Education (1.6%).
Overseas Offices and Exports. There were nine (10=France??) overseas offices: Tokyo, Japan (opened 1956), Hamburg, West Germany (1961-69), Brussels, Belgium (1970), Taipei, Taiwan (1970), Mexico City, Mexico (1971), Vienna, Austria (1974), Madrid, Spain (1976), Seoul, Korea (1979), and Singapore (1979). These were at work in 76 countries with a staff of 50 people. In early 1980 ASA opened its first Human Nutrition Center, in Mexico City, to identify and introduce acceptable soyfood dishes in Latin America, train soyfoods nutritionists, and work with governments and institutions on soy nutrition.
Prior to World War II, the U.S. was not an exporter of soybeans. The country exported 40 million bushels (14% of the crop) in 1953, 135 million bushels (24%) in 1960, 433 million bushels (38%) in 1970, and 740 million bushels (55%) in 1978. The value of soybean and soybean product exports jumped from $1 billion a year in 1966-1969 to over $7 billion by 1979; 74% of this value came from soybeans, 17% from soybean meal, and 9% from soy oil. This was about 23% of the total value of U.S. agricultural exports.
Staff. 134 employed staff in the U.S., including 110 in the St. Louis headquarters, and an additional 50 in overseas offices.
Education and Publications. Subscriptions to the Soybean Digest had climbed to 112,000. A record 1,729 people attended the annual National Convention in 1980 and 2,300 in 1981.