Roots for the Future: Part One

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A new wave of products for both consumers and farmers could start right here in South Central Kentucky. A specialty oil soybean plant may be taking root in Franklin, Ky.

The new soy bean has two purposes that could be very beneficial to Kentucky's economy and health.

According to Farmers in the area, between Simpson, Logan and Warren counties there are 6 million acres of soy beans grown. Kentucky Specialty Grains, the company exploring the feasibility of a plant like this, said they will add value for farmers by growing a specialty trait soybean for human food and livestock feed use.

Soy bean farmer Joe Neal Ballance started to explain his stance on the proposal. "Any new adventure has certain risks."

So, like other curious farmers Ballance is learning about the new specialty oil soybean, partly because it involves both soybean and cattle farmers.

President of Kentucky Specialty Grains, Chris Kummer, is the go-to man. Kummer is trying to spread information and knowledge to farmers looking to expand their crops.

"These are a special type of soy bean. I've used the analogy that Holsteins and Angus are both cows, Holsteins are used for milk and Angus is for beef," Kummer said.

Kummer also said there will be a machine that will separate the soybeans to give them a dual purpose. The machine will break down the soybeans and squeeze the oil, which will be used for fried food.

After the oil is squeezed from the soybean, the rest of it goes to the cows for feed, which farmers say it's healthier than their current meal.

"When you separate a soybean you have oil and meal. The meal will be for dairy use the meal has added value in dairy feeds so added value for dairy farmers as well as soybean farmers," Kummer explained.

"That may be the wave of the future, vegetable oil that contains high trans fats will be eliminated."

Ballance is still looking at his options.

Scott Cooper, a representative with Monsanto, believes the idea is catching on. Monsanto is company launching the soy beans. Cooper said he's seen the benefits first hand and believes the idea will take off in South Central Kentucky.

"With the demands from the manufacturers and demand on non-trans fat in the growing public, I see the demand rising dramatically," Cooper said.

Cooper also said although the new soy beans are more adapted to Mid-Western climate, Kentucky's long growing days could be a good match too.

"Long term it may stretch to Kentucky to Tennessee and possibly all over the U.S," Cooper said.

Although Ballance is still learning and researching the benefits and risks he sees a future in it too.

"Anytime you bring a new business into an area, you see satellite businesses grow from it. I don't know what they would be at this time but it has potential," Ballance said.

Kentucky Specialty Grains is encouraging anyone with questions or inquiries to call their local extension agent.