The Deputy Director for Food Security at Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), Mr. Kimihiko Eura, made a pit stop in southern Minnesota during his five-day visit to Minnesota this week.
The tour, organized by the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, was an opportunity for Eura to learn more about Minnesota agriculture, the corn and soybean industry, along with how the U.S. can meet the demand of a growing world population.
Kim Nill, director of market development at Minnesota Soybean, hosted Eura at the Minnesota Soybean office in Mankato to talk about Minnesota’s soybean production, exports, technology advances and what the soybean checkoff is doing in terms of food security.
“If you can control the weeds, that’s the first layer of safety,” explained Nill in terms of the research done on seed varieties and biotechnology advances. “Our checkoff investment in production research ultimately increases the level of food security.”
Nill also explained that because of new varieties and advances, farmers can now grow soybeans in new territories, increasing the number of acres grown in Minnesota
“Because of genetic improvements, Minnesota can now grow soybeans all the way to the Canadian border,” Nill said. “Northwest Minnesota now grows a large percentage of the state’s soybean supply.”
Nill answered questions from Eura on a variety of topics, including the use of different tillage methods used throughout the state, Minnesota’s access to the Port of Duluth, current export numbers for whole soybeans, soybean meal and soybean oil, along with questions on the relatively new use for soybean oil – biodiesel.
“Biodiesel was created so we didn’t have an oversupply of soybean oil,” Nill explained.
Eura also visited the farms of three soybean farmer leaders – Bruce Schmoll, Earl Ziegler and Keith Schrader.
The deputy director also made a stop at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) St. Paul office, a grain terminal, Guardian Energy, the University of Minnesota’s wheat breeding program, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway’s offices in Minneapolis, as well as several other farms across the state.
- Agriculture GDP/Total GDP: 0.9 percent
- Total number of farm entities: 1.26 million
- Average operated land per farm entity: 7.09 acres
- Population engaged in agriculture: 1.82 million
- Total cultivated land: 11.05 million acres