Soybean Yields Focus of Chinese Buyers Visit to Martin County Farm

A group of Chinese soybean buyers now have a better awareness of U.S. soybean yields and production practices thanks to a tour of a southern Minnesota that included a stop at the Lawrence Sukalski family farm south of Fairmont.

The buyers, visiting Minnesota as part of a tour coordinated by the United States Soybean Export Council (USSEC) and in conjunction with the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC), were in the state to learn more about soybean production and quality.

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big iron farm show

Thousands flock to West Fargo for Big Iron Farm Show

One of the upper Midwest’s largest farm shows is underway this week, bringing farmers from Minnesota, North Dakota, Canada and elsewhere together to see what’s new and important in agriculture. The Big Iron Farm Show features more than 700 exhibitors and annually draws about 85,000 visitors to the three-day event at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds in West Fargo, N.D.

Minnesota Soybean participates in this premier event, promoting the value of the soybean checkoff and the importance of membership in the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association. Soybean farmers Kurt Krueger, Jim Kukowski, Theresia Gillie, Cecil Deschene, Kevin Amiot, Elliot Solheim, Bill and Karolyn Zurn all spent time in the Minnesota Soybean booth interacting with their fellow farmers. They joined Justin Ge of MEG Corp and Tom Verry of the National Biodiesel Board, who were on hand to promote biodiesel and answer questions about the industry.

Despite chilly temperatures, rain and gusty winds at times, strong crowds filled the buildings on the Big Iron grounds looking at everything from the newest precision planting equipment to the newest seed genetics, livestock handling equipment and more. Hundreds of farmers took part in information sessions on a range of topics including grain marketing.

farm bill

Catch up on past Farm Bill webinars and Q&As

Missed out on any of the Farm Bill webinars or the Q&As? Click here to watch past webinars, or select a Q&A session from the list below.

Updating Crop Base Acres and FSA Program Yields
Kluis/Thiesse Q&A Part One
Kluis/Thiesse Q&A Part Two

Understanding the ARC and PLC Farm Program Decision
The Q&A session from the second webinar will be added to the final webinar Sept. 11. Check back for updates.

South East Asia buyers

Protein, Price and Freight on Minds of SE Asian Soybean Buyers

By Andrea Johnson 
Reprinted with permission of Minnesota Farm Guide

For international soybean buyers, August is a beautiful time of year to visit Minnesota.

Temperatures are comfortable. The soybean fields look great. Minnesota’s lakes and trees welcome guests. Farmers can also relax as they show their fields, their farm sites and their families to importers who buy every second or third row of U.S. soybeans. Giving buyers of soybean and soybean meal a look at Minnesota farms builds trust that helps the U.S. garner sales.

“Relationships are important,” said Sam Ziegler, Minnesota Soybean director of marketing programs. “We have a very high quality product, and we are building a high level of trust in our products to match it.”

Southeast Asia delegates traveled through Minnesota in late August. They visited Lance Peterson’s farm near Underwood, Jeffery and Karen Larson’s farm near Evansville, and Michael O’Leary’s farm near Danvers, as well as several ag industries.

Port of Grays Harbor AGP Terminal
Ziegler pointed out that one of the greatest marketing successes for northern soybeans began when AGP built a facility on Washington’s Pacific Coast about eight years ago. Soybean checkoff groups from Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska joined efforts to promote the new terminal, and bring buyers from Asia to farms in the Upper Midwest.

“This partnership has allowed buyers to see Upper Midwest soybeans from planting to harvest and shipment to the Port of Grays Harbor,” he said. “This has proven that this region of the U.S. can produce some of the highest quality soybeans in the world, and maintain that quality to their warehouse in Asia.”

Here are a few thoughts from three of the delegates:

Sri Lanka
Dr. Athula Mahagamage is a partner in Global Nutrition & Management Solutions Pvt. Ltd., Sri Lanka.
He is a veterinarian, and also has his MBA in Financial Administration.

A merchandiser in facilitating trade between the U.S. and Sri Lanka, he advocates for the use of genetically modified (GM) crops.

Sri Lanka is an island country off the southeast coast of the India subcontinent of South Asia. The population is about 20 million, and a few years ago, they banned GM crops.

In his role, Dr. Mahagamage has worked to explain that the GM soybeans hold no health threat. He’s also worked to increase soybean meal sales from the U.S. to Sri Lanka.

In 2012, his country imported 9,014 metric tons (20 million pounds) of soybean meal; and in 2013, the number was 41,065 metric tons (90.5 million pounds). So far in 2014, Sri Lanka has imported 32,539 metric tons (72 million pounds) of soybean meal, according to the USDA Foreign Ag Service.
Dr. Mahagamage said he can easily see the high quality of U.S. soybeans, but his biggest challenge has been related to freight and container-availability issues.

Thailand
Mr. Somphob Auesongtham is the supply chain and global sourcing manager for Inteqc Feed Co., Ltd. of Thailand.

The company’s main business is to manufacture and market animal feed additives. They specialize in shrimp, fish and swine feed, and are the second largest fish feed manufacturer in Thailand.

With a population of 64.5 million people, Thailand is located west of Vietnam.

Thailand purchased 360,000 metric tons (13 million bushels) of soybeans in 2012, 568,000 metric tons (20.1 million bushels) in 2013, and 426,600 metric tons (15.76 million bushels) in 2014.

They purchased 10,000 metric tons (22 million pounds) of meal in 2012, 15,000 metric tons (33 million pounds) in 2013, and so far have purchased 368,400 metric tons (812 million pounds) of soybean meal in 2014.

Auesongtham worked with a group of 20 companies to ship several Panamax ships filled with soybean meal to Thailand this year. He added that Thailand feed companies generally need either high protein soybean products that cost more to purchase, or they want low protein products that are inexpensive.
His biggest question in August was asking why soybean meal prices remained high when soybean prices had dropped significantly.

Vietnam
Ms. Tran Ngoc Thuy (Tina) is a purchasing manager in Vietnam for De Heus, a privately owned business with global operations.

One of the top 15 suppliers of animal feed in the world, De Heus operates in more than 50 countries outside of its headquarters in the Netherlands, and has more than 3,000 employees. The feed manufacturers are building their fifth and sixth factories in Vietnam to provide high quality feed for pigs, poultry and cattle for the country’s 89 million people.

“The farms are very big in the U.S., if you compare with Vietnam where there are smaller farms,” she added. “You hear reports there are big farms, but you come here and you see it with your own eyes.
“The machinery is very modern, and you can’t find that in Vietnam.”

De Heus also has operations in Brazil, and the company will buy soybeans from whatever country has the best product to meet their needs at the best price. They are primarily interested in protein levels, Tina added.

Vietnam purchased 297,000 metric tons (10.9 million bushels) of soybeans in 2012, 608,000 metric tons (22.3 million bushels) in 2013, and 516,000 metric tons (19 million bushels) in 2014. They purchased 58,000 metric tons (128 million pounds) of soybean meal in 2012, 268,500 metric tons (592 million pounds) in 2013, and 316,000 metric tons (696.6 million pounds) in 2014.

Tina encourages U.S. farmers to keep doing a great job of producing high quality soybeans, and she also wants everyone to visit Vietnam. The best months to travel there are April, May and October, although travel in Southern Vietnam is still good from November to February – the same time as U.S. soybean farmers can take time away from their farms.

When you think of all of the steps that it takes to raise soybeans here for livestock feed in Southeast Asia, it’s really amazing that it gets done.

Success has occurred because of good relationships built between countries.

“Today, the AGP terminal at the Port of Grays Harbor is one of the greatest marketing successes for soybeans,” said Ziegler. “Vietnam, Thailand, Sri Lanka and many other countries in Southeast Asia are huge customers, and will continue to be for many years to come, thanks to farmers showing their crops – and this great partnership with AGP.”

Tillage field day

Tillage Options on Display at Field Day

More than 200 farmers took part in a unique event designed to demonstrate the value and impacts of various tillage techniques. The Total Tillage Solutions Field Day drew farmers from several counties to the Jeff Olson farm near Madison, Minn., on Thursday. Put on by the University of Minnesota Extension and sponsored in part by the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council, the field day offered a unique opportunity to better understand options, advantages and challenges of different tillage equipment options.
In the past decade, there have been many new equipment choices brought to the market. They operate at several depths and create different intensities of soil disturbance that can affect fertilizer, weed, residue and planting management.
The field day used four customized soil pits to demonstrate different management techniques to help producers better understand their tillage options. The pits, using backfill of alternating dark and light soil layers, helped visualize the impact these implements are having below the soil surface. The pits showcased 11 different tillage implements, revealing a cross section of the soil and the disturbance each implement creates. Another station demonstrated the newest applications of UAV technology. Field demonstrations by major equipment manufacturers also took place.

STB rail hearing

Minn. Soybean Leader Asks STB for ‘Adequate and Timely’ Rail Service

Underwood, Minn., farmer and American Soybean Association (ASA) Director Lance Peterson joined other concerned growers Thursday, Sept. 4, in Fargo, N.D., at a public hearing before the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to testify on rail service issues and the negative impacts on soybean growers. As the backlog of rail cars in the upper Midwest continues, many elevators are still full of 2013-crop grain ahead of a looming 2014 harvest. This backlog negatively affects basis levels and cash bids, and could create a grain storage crisis as a new crop harvest begins.

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Pope County Soybean Plot

Pope County Farmers Discuss Varieties at Plot Trials

Dozens of Pope County farmers have a better understanding of what crop varieties they may plant in 2015 thanks to the Pope County Plot Event. More than 70 farmers and industry representatives toured the soybean and corn plots on Curt Dahlseng’s farm near Starbuck as seed company representatives shared variety and genetic information.

After the tour of varieties in this year’s plot, Pope and Douglas County FSA Director Grant Herfindahl discussed this year’s farm bill decisions and urged the farmers to be in conversation with their local FSA offices about communications they receive from the USDA.

To wrap things up, Joe Smentek, Minnesota Soybean Director of Environmental Affairs, spoke during supper about EPA’s Waters of the U.S.

“The proposed rule does not clarify waters of the U.S. any more than the current Supreme Court cases,” Smentek said. “It is important for farmers to be engaged in these discussions because it could have ramifications in the future for farmers in caring for their land.”

The Pope County Corn and Soybean Growers Association is affiliated with the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC), a non-profit organization controlled by a board of elected soybean producers from across the state who directs the investments of the state’s soybean checkoff dollars into programs designed to increase the profitability of Minnesota’s soybean farmers.

soybean pod

Meints: Another Tool in the GMO Discussion

I’d like to take a moment to highlight a recent article posted on AgProfessional Friday, August 26.

Meints

Paul Meints

The article introduces the searchable Genetic Engineering Risk Atlas (GENERA) a privately funded project of Biology Fortified, Inc. a non-profit entity engaged in discussion on biological issues in agriculture. Their current work shows that half of all GMO focused research is funded by government agencies and independent non-profit organizations suggesting that unbiased research into GMO safety is ongoing. This is in contrast to common anecdotal reporting that all GMO research is funded by entities that profit from the science and thus result in pro-GMO bias.

As you continue to talk with friends and neighbors who may not be involved in agriculture, have in your memory facts about the science of agriculture and resources such as the one listed here. Use these to help them search for and understand the truth about the crops we produce.

Dr. Paul Meints is the Research Program Manager at MN Soybean and has an MS in plant breeding and genetics and a PhD in Seed Physiology.

farm bill

Farm Bill webinars Continue to Deliver

The second in a series of three Farm Bill 2014 webinars wrapped up Tuesday with strong farmer participation. Minnesota Soybean Growers Association director Theresia Gillie, from Kittson County, was among hundreds of participants who joined the webinar, hosted by Farm Market Analyst Al Kluis, Farm Management Analyst Kent Thiesse and FSA staff.

“A lot of people have been on the webinars and there have been a lot of good questions,” Gillie said.

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Douglas County FSA

Local FSA Director Speaks at Douglas County Plot Event

The Douglas County Soybean & Corn Growers had a good turnout at their county plot tour Thursday. Seed company representatives shared variety and genetics information, Grant Herfindahl, FSA Director of Douglas & Pope Counties, spoke on the timing of Farm Bill implementation and what that might mean for local growers and a pork chop dinner was served.

Concerning farm program sign-up, Herfindahl said he is hoping it will run after growers finish harvesting this year’s crop so they can have ample time to make decisions on what programs to sign-up for. He also says the sign-up is likely to flow into the next year.

He went on to answer questions about the programs and about the current crop in Douglas County.

“This year there is about 12,000 prevent plant acres in Douglas County. Normally, there are 170,000 acres planted in the county. And compared to the approximately 72,000 planted acres of corn we’ve seen the last couple of years in the county,” Herfindahl said, “this year there is only 45,000 planted acres of corn. So it seems there is a lot more acres of soybeans than in the recent past.”

Herfindahl will also be speaking to farmers at the Pope County Plot Tour Tuesday, Sept 2. The event will be held near the Dahlseng farm near Starbuck at 5 pm.