USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) attachés serve as the eyes, ears and voice of American agriculture around the world.
This week, the USDA officials were in Minnesota doing just that. Forty agricultural attachés representing 20 different countries were making their way around the state learning about Minnesota agriculture.
One of their pit stops along the way was a visit to the Wells farm of Minnesota Soybean Growers Association Vice President Darin Johnson.
“We have an open-door policy on our farm,” Johnson said, who has hosted numerous trade teams and political leaders. “If someone wants to see what we do, we have no problem with that.”
There were many questions among the crowd, including conservation practices and the day-to-day operations of the farm. Additionally, visitors were interested in looking at the equipment and traveling out to Johnson Farms’ soybean field.
“They were able to get a better perspective of how we farm,” Johnson said. “For example, we had a great conversation about technology; it was a neat opportunity to explain that and what we do on our farm.”
Also noted during the tour was that soybeans are Minnesota’s number one top agricultural export, with a value totaling more than $2 billion annually
Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC) CEO Tom Slunecka and MSR&PC Director of Market Development Kim Nill were also in attendance.
“These tours are important because we get to teach others all the opportunities Minnesota soybeans have for export,” said Nill, who recently returned from a trade mission to Uzbekistan. “I just had this conversation over in Uzbekistan of utilizing the Port of Duluth as an opportunity for transportation of our soybeans, and today we were able to showcase it to many of the agricultural attachés.”
With the idea to create a network and make connections, FAS has worked to plan an agricultural attaché tour each year since 1986, with two paused years during COVID-19. This year was the first year back, and the Council was happy to host them.
“It was great to connect with all the agricultural attachés and promote all the awesome things Minnesota soybeans are doing for the state,” Slunecka said.