U.S. Sustainability Alliance Amplifies Value of Sustainable U.S. Soy to European Stakeholders

As a member of the U.S Sustainability Alliance (USSA), the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) collaborates with other agricultural and export-focused organizations to highlight the sustainability of U.S. production practices. This partnership creates more opportunities to highlight the low carbon footprint of U.S. Soy.

“USSA plays a crucial role in promoting and supporting sustainable agricultural practices,” says Abby Rinne, USSEC Director of Sustainability. “Through its work, USSA fosters innovation, knowledge sharing and awareness of our farmers’ and producers’ commitment to sustainability with key industry stakeholders in the UK and Europe.”

As a leader in USSA, USSEC takes advantage of opportunities to deepen connections with key European stakeholders, while amplifying the value that the sustainability of U.S. Soy offers.

“Essentially all the U.S. Soy products exported to Europe are verified sustainable through the U.S. Soy Sustainability Assurance Protocol (SSAP), and those certificates were transferred through the supply chain more than any other part of the world in 2023,” Rinne reports. “Stakeholders in the region want to understand what such sustainability verification means.”

Two key USSA efforts provided opportunities to share those messages.

Media Tour Highlights Commitment to Sustainability
The USSA Media Tour during the 2023 growing season included a diverse group of journalists from the Czech Republic, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom. It aimed to provide participants with a comprehensive understanding of Nebraska's agricultural landscape, including U.S. Soy production.

“Showcasing Nebraska agriculture provided the opportunity to address key sustainability issues, including soil health, water use and climate change,” Rinne explains.

Tour stops included farms and ranches, an irrigation company, a popcorn manufacturer, a feedyard, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Key takeaways for the journalists emphasized the sustainability of U.S. agriculture.

  • Participants gained insights into sustainable farming practices, including the integration of
    crop and livestock systems.
  • Farmers showcased the use of conservation tillage, cover cropping, rotational grazing, and crop
    rotation to mitigate soil erosion and preserve soil health.
  • Visitors received a deeper understanding of agricultural irrigation and its role in efficient
    water usage as they learned about the adoption and use of pivot irrigation systems.
  • A visit to Loseke Feedyards highlighted animal welfare best practices, showing the
    measures taken to ensure healthy livestock.
  • The Tractor Test Laboratory at the University of Nebraska provided an overview of the work of
    this global leader in tractor performance and safety testing.

“European journalists discovered that farmers in Nebraska, representative of many in the U.S., have embraced sustainable practices to confront challenges posed by extreme weather conditions,” Rinne says. “Through conservation tillage, cover cropping and crop rotation, they mitigate soil erosion, preserve soil health and ensure long-term land fertility.”

For example, she notes that water use is a hot topic globally. The tour tackled groundwater depletion concerns in the Sandhills region of the state, showing how farmers respond to the need for careful management and conservation, and local irrigation expertise. The potential of those systems extends beyond the U.S., particularly in regions seeking to enhance food production.

The tour gave journalists invaluable insights into sustainable agricultural practices in the heart of the U.S. Midwest, and their significance on a global scale. Continued efforts in promoting innovation and nurturing collaboration ensure ongoing improvements and demonstrate the value of choosing sustainable agricultural products raised in the U.S.

“The media and social media coverage resulting from the media tour was overwhelmingly positive,” Rinne adds. “It followed a consistent theme: that long-held beliefs that U.S. agriculture lacked credibility when it came to sustainability were misplaced.”

Outreach Mission Cultivates Critical Relationships
USSA’s European Union Outreach Mission to Spain and Belgium the following fall aimed to communicate the United States' dedication to sustainable agriculture and to cultivate relationships with key stakeholders. Primary goals included expressing U.S. commitment to sustainable agriculture, dispelling misconceptions about American farming practices and engaging in meaningful discussions about the challenges and opportunities within the industry.

“The delegation gained a deeper understanding of European Union agriculture and food policies,” Rinne reports. “At the same time, they fostered connections with stakeholders and established critical contacts.”

The itinerary featured a series of workshops and one-on-one meetings in Spain and Belgium with government officials, industry representatives and members of the European Commission. Delegation members underscored the importance of flexible sustainability regulations.

“One effective icebreaker involved opening meetings by inviting European contacts to describe their perceptions of U.S. agriculture,” Rinne says. “Several meeting participants said afterwards that their long-held misconceptions about U.S. had been corrected.”

During the mission, 13 meetings and four formal presentations allowed the U.S. delegation to meet with farmer representatives, stakeholders and officials who expressed interest in continued communication. Discussion topics ranged from sustainable food systems to pesticide regulations, and from packaging waste to regulations for sustainability claims.

“Together, the media tour in the U.S. and the outreach mission to Spain and Belgium were valuable opportunities to provide a more accurate view of the sustainability of U.S. agriculture, including U.S. Soy production,” she adds. “Both efforts reinforced the commitment of U.S. farmers and producers to sustainability in a market that prioritizes it.”

To learn more about the sustainability of U.S. Soy, see the 2023 U.S. Soy Sustainability Assurance Protocol annual report.

This story was partially funded by U.S. Soy farmers, their checkoff and the soy value chain.


The U.S. Sustainability Alliance media tour for journalists from the Czech Republic, Germany, the
Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom included connecting with former Nebraska Director of
Agriculture, Steve Wellman.
The U.S. Sustainability Alliance delegation discussed sustainable food systems and more during
meetings with key stakeholders like La Lonja Sevilla, a key commodity market in Spain, during
their outreach mission to the EU.