MANKATO, Minnesota — Scott Ritzman knew what he was talking about when he pitched the idea of joining the Northern Soy Marketing group to the Nebraska Soybean Board.

Ritzman, the executive director of the Nebraska Soybean Board, had previously worked with Northern Soy Marketing when he was employed by a private consulting firm.

Scott Ritzman, the executive director of the Nebraska Soybean Board
Contributed photo
Scott Ritzman, the executive director of the Nebraska Soybean Board Contributed photo

In those seven years, he saw how Northern Soy Marketing, with member states Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, would invest checkoff funds to market soybeans based on amino acid value rather than just protein.

"We're just excited to join what others states have been doing for eight plus years," Ritzman said in an interview about joining Northern Soy Marketing. Ritzman has worked extensively with NSM consultant Peter Mishek.

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Nebraska grower leaders approved a measure to join NSM at its October board meeting.

Like its northern neighbors, Nebraska exports most of its soybeans through the Pacific Northwest to Asian markets.

Soybeans grown in a northern climate will naturally have lower protein levels, which in the past is how soybeans the feed value of soybeans has been judged.

He has watched how Northern Soy Marketing has been able to educate customers on how the higher amino acid value in soybeans grown in a northern climate makes it a superior product to many of the region's competitors, such as South American countries.

"It's just really another way to leverage our checkoff dollars," said Ritzman, a Nebraska native who attended Midland University in Fremont, Nebraska.

The soybean checkoff boards of the founding three states of NSM developed the critical amino acid value standard to measure essential amino acids and evaluate soybean quality.

After nearly two years of being largely unable to meet face-to-face with buyers, NSM leaders say they are excited to hold in-person meetings with international partners in the coming months.

Nebraska Soybean will soon nominate someone from its nine-member board to represent the state on NSM’s board of directors. NSM is holding its next board meeting Nov. 29-30 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Nebraska is the nation’s fifth-largest agriculture-exporting state, and soybeans are its top export commodity, with soybeans acres growing in the western part of the state.

“We’re thrilled that Nebraska is now a part of our team,” NSM chairman and Minnesota farmer Patrick O’Leary said in a news release. “It’s an exciting time, coming off of COVID and having some strong programming for not only international marketing, but looking at our domestic markets and making sure people understand our mission.”

Patrick O'Leary, Northern Soy Marketing chairman
Contributed photo
Patrick O'Leary, Northern Soy Marketing chairman Contributed photo

In another announcement, Katelyn Engquist has been elevated to serve as Northern Soy Marketing’s market development project manager. Engquist, who lives in West Fargo, North Dakota, had been serving as communications specialist for NSM and Ag Management Solutions, which oversees NSM’s daily operations.

“The states that comprise NSM have done an excellent job promoting the quality of our soybeans in overseas markets,” Ag Management Solutions CEO Tom Slunecka said in a news release. “NSM is planning even further promotion of our high-quality soybeans to both our domestic and international audiences. We’re excited for what the future holds with Katelyn onboard to help lead our mission.”