Trade trip

Mike Langseth, a North Dakota Soybean farmer and Peter Mishek, of Mishek Inc. are at a flour mill in Malaysian working with research partners to increase demand for U.S. soybeans grown in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.

St. Paul, Minn. – Despite trade difficulties with China, efforts are still being made to increase the demand for Midwest soybeans in Southeast Asia. At the beginning of 2019, representatives of the Northern Soybean Marketing group spent 10 days in four countries.

“NSM is an independent group that is supported by Minnesota and the two Dakotas’ soybean checkoff organizations,” said Seth Naeve, University of Minnesota Extension agronomist. “They each put money into a pool that helps support marketing for soybeans from those states.”

Naeve is one of six representatives that traveled to Southeast Asia during the first part of January. The group intended to visit Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines.

“We are going to do meetings in those countries and some company visits,” said Naeve, just ahead of the trip. “In addition, we have a new project we are starting in Malaysia with an integrator and soybean purchaser.”

This integrator, in addition to having some food processing facilities, raises egg layers and broilers. NSM will be working with them to set up a new feeding trial with northern-grown soybeans.

Soybeans produced in the northern region tend to have lower total protein than those produced in the south.

“The protein that is there is enhanced in nutritional value in terms of the balance of amino acids,” he said. “We have been doing this about four or five years where we have been talking about this whole amino acid benefit.”

Northern grown soybeans are often marketed globally via the Pacific Northwest (PNW), while other regions of the country sell their beans through the Gulf of Mexico.

“I would argue North Dakota's soybean production increased due to the shift in China's purchasing, increased total purchasing, but also the fact that they were interested in buying soybeans out of the PNW,” Naeve said.

With China currently not buying any U.S. soybeans because of the administration’s trade war, there is no outlet for soybeans sent to the PNW.

“There is a complete vacuum in terms of demand for soybeans that come out of that region, so the beans are just completely piling up,” he said.

With China away from the buying table, the NSM is working to develop and grow other markets.

Traveling with Naeve were Mike Langseth, North Dakota Soybean Council, Todd Hanten, South Dakota Soybean Research & Promotion Council, Peter Mishek, Mishek Inc. & Associates, Keith Schrader, Minnesota Soybean, and Craig Pietig, Ag Processing, Inc.

“The way I look at it is we use all the soybeans in the world every year,” said Naeve. “There are a few things, like this African swine fever, that kind of mess stuff up, but otherwise we basically are utilizing all of our soybeans every single year in the world, they just have to go somewhere.”