If you think soybeans are just for livestock and vegetarians, think again.
Increasingly, the commodity is being used in manufacturing — an ingredient in everything from glue to cleaning supplies to even furniture filling.
“Even Henry Ford in the 1930s had built cars using soy oil paint,” said William Schapaugh, an agronomy professor at Kansas State University in Manhattan. “They were using soy oil in the shock absorbers of the cars. So that goes back a long time.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts the nation’s farmers will deliver a record 3.42 billion bushels of soybeans this year. The USDA is also forecasting that this year for the first time Brazil will overtake the United States as the world’s leading producer of soybeans. That means the pressure is on American soybean farmers like Brian Flatt, 41, to eke out even more soybeans from his fields.