Hosting trade teams is important to Minnesota farmers, so when organizations like the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council come knocking, plenty of farmers gladly open up their farms and homes to host international buyers.
When more than 200 international buyers and food industry experts came to Minnesota for the U.S. Soy Global Trade Exchange in Minneapolis, it wasn’t too difficult finding enough farmers to play host to the visitors.
“I think you take things for granted when you are in the farming industry,” said Jeff Ignaszewski, who along with his brother John, hosted a team from Pakistan and a team from Taiwan, at their farm near Wells, Minn. “They really didn’t have a clue that we actually own equipment, which I just couldn’t believe. And they actually couldn’t believe that we could own equipment that costs that much money to do this. I thought this was very educational.”
The day kicked off at Ritchie Bros. in Medford, Minn., where teams from Japan, India, Bangladesh, the Middle East, North Africa, SE Asia, Taiwan, Pakistan, Europe and the Americas listened to NRCS official Tom Coffman discuss soybean production in terms of sustainability; Dr. Mark Wehe of South Central College on financial statements; and University of Minnesota Agronomist Seth Naeve on soybean essential amino acids and shipping effects on soy protein quality.
Much of the education, however, came from the farms. At Ignaszewski’s farm, the team from Pakistan was making history as the first soy buyers to travel to the United States. A relaxation of regulations in Pakistan, coupled with a need for better protein sources, has opened the importing of soybeans.
“Pakistan is new in terms of the soybean important business,” said Shakil Ashfaq, Chief Executive of Shujabad Agro Industries in Karachi, Pakistan. “We’d like to learn more about the crop and the different qualities and also processing.”
Importing more soybeans means a higher degree of learning is needed, Ashfaq said.
“In Pakistan there was a major shift because the local poultry industry has switched from other protein sources to soybeans,” he said. “Pakistan is a big country and we would need a lot of beans. We need to learn how to train, how to process.”
At Ritchie Bros, the trade team also heard from MSR&PC Chairman Keith Schrader. Schrader stressed the importance of building relationships with international buyers.
“The soybean checkoff allows us to meet you at home where you live, as well as here where we live,” Schrader said. “We understand and know the importance of good relationships, and it’s important we can show you that Minnesota farmers grow high-quality soybeans, and we do it in a sustainable way.”
Also hosting farm visits was Mike Riley and Sons of Amboy; Schrader of Nertstrand; Bruce Schmoll of Claremont; Sam Ziegler of Good Thunder; Scott Singlestad of Waseca; and Roger Toquam of Blooming Prairie.