Raising standards

In late 2020, the U.S. Senate passed the Grain Standards Reauthorization Act. The enables continuation of testing and grading to official marketing standards for grains and oilseeds.

Official grain standards define each grain, classes of the grain and numerical grades. The standards facilitate the marketing of grain by serving in contract language, enabling buyers and sellers to more easily determine quality and value of these commodities, according to the Senate Ag Committee.

“The really important part is we need mechanisms that allow efficient trade through the systems,” University of Minnesota Agronomist Seth Naeve said. “And those minimum standards are met, so when a seller is selling and a buyer is buying, they both have assurance of what the other person has or wants.”

Minnesota’s low FM

Naeve recently conducted extensive research for the United Soybean Board, producing results on the quality of the U.S. 2020 soybean crop.

Components of his research included testing for protein and oil, physical characteristics, amino acids and sucrose. For Minnesota soybean farmers, Naeve’s research and the passing of this act are a huge win as Minnesota continuously produces high-quality soybeans with low levels of foreign material (FM) found in them.

“China enforces that if soybeans come from America to China, they have to have 1 percent or less FM,” said Kim Nill, market development director for the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council. “Right now, the Grain Standards Reauthorization Act allows 2 percent FM in U.S. No. 2 soybeans. Therefore, Minnesota farmers and sellers need to tout we have clean beans.”

Despite a nearly two-year long trade war, China remains the No. 1 buyer of United States soybeans. Having beans with low FM to abide by Chinese regulations is important, Nill said. For Minnesota farmers, having low FM is vital to their profitability.

“The reality is that China takes a vast majority of soybeans from the U.S., and during certain times about 90 percent of the beans that leave the Pacific Northwest ports,” Nill said.

Maintaining an edge

To continue efforts of maintaining and improving Minnesota’s low FM, Naeve worked on a Northern Soy Marketing-funded project to create eight videos to assist Minnesota soybean producers in continuous improvement in their FM-reduction efforts.

The video series provides an overview of important issues and provides the basic information needed by farmers to manage herbicide-resistant weeds and to keep weed seed out of their soybeans.

“Our farmers work hard and smart to keep FM down, and this can be even further improved as a result of Seth Naeve’s FM videos,” Nill said. “We need to keep our competitive edge to be able to market our beans to China to be shipped out of the Pacific Northwest ports.”

Follow The Conversation