September 05, 2017
By Heather Manhardt
Pickens County soybean farmer Annie Dee serves on the United Soybean Board, which oversees soybean checkoff funding.
A new tire expected to hit the road this fall will have some Alabama farmers smiling. That’s because a new all-season, innovative line of tires was made possible in part by the soybean checkoff.
Goodyear’s Assurance WeatherReady tires for passenger vehicles feature a soy-based rubber compound, bringing forward yet another market opportunity for soybean oil and, in return, a profit opportunity for soybean farmers.
Pickens County soybean farmer Annie Dee said she’s excited about the new Goodyear tires — and about increasing demand for the crop she and other Alabama farmers produce.
“Using soy oil in tires has many benefits,” said Dee, a member of the United Soybean Board, which oversees checkoff spending. “Soy is a renewable resource, so we’re not depleting our natural resources. By increasing the demand for soybeans, I’m hopeful the price farmers receive will increase for the beans they grow. Our checkoff dollars continue to search for new uses for soybeans.”
John Motter, United Soybean Board chair and farmer from Jenera, Ohio, shared Dee’s excitement.
“When we started working with Goodyear more than six years ago, it was just an idea, a way to build demand for soybean oil,” he said. “Now, we have a tire that shows what soy can do on the road.”
Goodyear’s interest in soybean oil included a look at sustainability, a priority for many corporations throughout the U.S.; however, what it found was a competitive advantage — rubber compounds made with soybean oil remained soft at lower temperatures, leading to enhanced traction in dry, wet and winter conditions. Thus the name, WeatherReady.
“As we develop great products that anticipate and respond to the needs of consumers, soybean oil was one of the technologies enabling us to meet a challenging performance goal,” said Eric Mizner, Goodyear’s global material science director.
A product advantage is news to soybean farmers’ ears, as this market is just beginning.
“Businesses looking to use soy, even if for sustainable purposes, want to see not only a price-competitive product, but one that functions the same or better than their original product,” Motter said. “That’s why the checkoff works with companies such as Goodyear to test soybean oil and confirm its characteristics, so we can increase demand for our product and ultimately increase our profit opportunities.”
Goodyear’s Assurance WeatherReady tire will be widely available this month. It will be offered in a wide range of sizes, covering 77 percent of cars, minivans and SUVs on the road.
USB’s 73 farmer-directors work on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers to achieve maximum value for their soy checkoff investments. These volunteers invest and leverage checkoff funds in programs and partnerships to drive soybean innovation beyond the bushel and increase preference for U.S. soy. That preference is based on U.S. soybean meal and oil quality and the sustainability of U.S. soybean farmers.
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 www.unitedsoybean.org or check out its Facebook, Twitter and YouTube channels.
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