The story of Henry Ford’s push to grow soybeans in America
As President Trump and Chinese leaders swap threats of trade tariffs, we've heard a lot of talk about what a 25 percent Chinese tariff might mean to soybean farmers in the U.S. and specifically in Michigan, one of the top soybean-producing states.
But how did a legume primarily used in Chinese foods and native to East Asia wind up becoming such a major part of American agriculture? The answer: Henry Ford, who Time magazine declared in 1936 to be “a bean’s best friend.”
Ted Genoways, author of the book, This Blessed Earth: A Year in the Life of an American Family Farm, joined Stateside to discuss Ford’s early advocacy of soy for industrial purposes, its transformation into a crucial agricultural commodity, and the precarious state of farmers who depend on volatile international trade markets.