Wild varieties of soybeans are indigenous to many regions of China, and cultivation of the plant began in the low plains of northern China over 3,000 years ago. While it only became a major global crop in the late 20th century, soy farms currently account for 6% of all cultivated land in the world, and have been increasing by more than 5% each year. Less than 6% of the total, global soy crop is eaten in directly by humans. In 2015, the US produced more than 100 million metric tons of soybean, half of which were exported.
This documentary short juxtaposes two stories. At the site where much of these soybeans will leave the US through ports in the Gulf of Mexico, a hulking machine moves four million pounds of soybeans per hour, from river barges to sea-going Panamax ships. An agricultural economist in Illinois recounts the impact of an unexpected embargo by the US on exports of soybeans to Japan in 1973.
Screened in the 40th Annual Big Muddy Film Festival (2018).