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.”

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.

Northwest Minnesota variety trial

Another Look in the Field: Variety Selection Questions are About to Begin

It is nearly September, which means that the first contacts for varietal selection and seed purchases for next year are soon to begin. Between now and the end of harvest, you will likely be visited by your local seed dealers or company representatives concerning what you will be planting next year. These initial commitments are often requested before a combine has entered the field for you as a grower and most likely for the seed companies as well. The importance of deciding what varieties you will grow next year cannot be overstated. As you receive these visits, I’d like to encourage a few considerations.

Read more

biodiesel essay

Biodiesel Essay Contest Winners announced

The winners of the 2014 Clean Air Choice Biodiesel Essay contests have been selected. John Wheaton, a recent graduate of Minnetonka High School, was the first place winner with his essay, “Impacting a new generation: my journey toward educating the community on the benefits of biodiesel.”
Wheaton, a resident of Deephaven, Minn., has long had an interest in alternative fuels and vehicle technologies. He heard about the scholarship while attending a meeting at the American Lung Association in Minnesota headquarters. He will receive a $1,000 check for his winning essay.
The second place winner is Hannah Korri of Duluth. A recent graduate of Two Harbors High School, Hannah wrote of her concerns that vehicle emissions from traditional petroleum fuels threatened the “…crisp, clean air found only in our Northland.” She will receive a $500 check for her winning essay.
There were 76 entrees in the 2014 Clean Air Choice Biodiesel Essay contest, which is open to all high school seniors in Minnesota.

Trade Teams Tour Minnesota Farms

Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council, in conjunction with AGP, hosted a group of soybean and soybean meal buyers from South East Asia who were interested in meeting farmers and looking at the 2014 soybean crop. The delegates made visits on Wednesday, Aug. 20, to tour Lance Peterson’s farm near Underwood, Minn., and Jeffrey & Karen Larson’s farm near Evansville, Minn.

On Thursday, the groups  continued touring Minnesota with a visit to a dairy facility, a turkey facility, an ethanol plant and to Minnesota Soybean Growers Association director Mike O’Leary’s family hog farm near Danvers, Minn. An important part of maintaining a relationship with trade teams is to host them on farm tours or take them straight to producers to experience U.S. agriculture first-hand, to make connections with farmers on a personal level and develop an understanding of modern agriculture.

Soybean Research & Promotion Council Directors Re-Elected

Mankato, Minn.—The current slate of Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council (MSR&PC) officers has been re-elected to a second term by the board of directors. The elections occurred at the Council’s June 18 board meeting in Mankato.

Paul Simonsen, a soybean farmer from Renville County was re-elected to chair the checkoff board. Simonsen operates his family farm raising corn, soybeans, sweet corn and peas in southern Renville County near Fairfax. Read more