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The story of Henry Ford’s push to grow soybeans in America

Apr 19, 2018

Robert Boyer and Henry Ford unveiling the Soybean Car, 1941.
Credit From the Collections of The Henry Ford / Benson Ford Research Center

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.

Listen above.

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