With more than half of Minnesota’s annual soybean crop being exported each year, the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council (MSR&PC) uses a portion of the soybean checkoff to expand markets and build relationships with international customers. Because of the value exporting brings to soybeans, the Council offers Minnesota farmers the opportunity to evaluate these investments by participating in a See For Yourself (SFY) mission.
The 2016 SFY mission will be headed to Vietnam, with tentative dates of March 16, 2016, through March 27, 2016. Any questions on the trip can be directed to Keith Schrader, Vice Chairman of MSR&PC, at 507-649-1574 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Those interested in the mission can apply here.
Leading up to the 2016 SFY mission, Minnesota Soybean will be interviewing past participants about their mission experience.
Deron Erickson is a farm business management educator at Ridgewater College while operating a 450 acre corn and soybean farm east of Chokio, Minn.
Q: Where did you travel to for your See For Yourself (SFY) mission?
A: I traveled to China in March of 2013.
Q: What influenced you to sign up for SFY?
A: I was hesitant to apply but saw it as a great chance to see our checkoff dollars at work. The chance to see the biggest export market for our soybeans was also a big draw. I am a farm business management instructor, as well as a farmer, so I also saw the mission as a chance to bring back the information gathered to the 60 farmers and students that I work with.
Q: What did you know about the soybean checkoff investment in the country before your SFY mission?
A: I knew the checkoff was collected from my check. I wasn’t aware of the tremendous job the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council, in collaboration with the United Soybean Board (USB), does promoting our soybean commodity to other countries. I was also impressed with the partnership with other commodity groups to promote U.S. agricultural products.
Q: What did you take away from your mission?
A: I took away an appreciation for the work of the checkoff dollars. Being in the export market, the U.S. farmer is greatly influenced by the Chinese market and economy. As the Chinese economy slows, so will the demand for our soybeans. The checkoff dollars will be even more important as competition for the Chinese export dollars heats up.
Q: What is one lasting memory that you will always remember from your mission?
A: I will remember the food and experiencing the culture of China. Being on the Great Wall of China and the night skyline of Hong Kong was probably the most memorable. I also enjoyed meeting with individuals who were actually importing and using our soybeans. The respect for the Minnesota farmer they showed was great. The people we traveled with were memorable, too.
Q: Why should someone sign up for the SFY 2016 mission?
A: It is worthwhile to see your checkoff dollars at work. The mission allows you to learn and educate yourself on the market that your crop goes to. It is important, as a farmer or businessman, to understand the market and what overseas customers are looking for and why. This is a rare opportunity to meet with the customers and see what they want in the commodity we produce. The market for soybeans is not the local elevator. As a producer, you have to go beyond the local elevator and learn about your customer. I would love to be able to go on another one of these trips.
Q: What value do you see in the Minnesota Research and Promotion Council investing money overseas?
A: As I have said, the money is well spent keeping the U.S. soybean at the forefront of the export market. Our soybean still isn’t viewed as the most highly sought after soybean in the world. The MSR&PC is helping change that view through research and promotion. We have a great product and the story of the benefits needs to be told to our customers.