SD soybean farmers travel west for tour
BROOKINGS, S.D. -- Fifteen South Dakota soybean farmers recently traveled to the west coast with the See for Yourself program to see how their checkoff dollars were being invested.
BROOKINGS, S.D. - Fifteen South Dakota soybean farmers recently traveled to the west coast with the See for Yourself program to see how their checkoff dollars were being invested.
See for Yourself is a yearly program coordinated by the South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council. The group will travel to Mexico in 2018, and applicants are currently being sought, according to Tim Ostrem, farmer and council representative.
"Over 60 percent of South Dakota soybeans are exported through the Pacific Northwest," Ostrem says. "It was a great experience to see the process in person."
March 13-16, the group traveled to Washington state to tour Ag Processing Inc. at the Port of Grays Harbor, the Tacoma Export Marketing Company, an aquaculture facility at a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration site, and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway at the Seattle International Gateway Intermodal Facility.
Beginning the trip, a postponed flight caused the group to improvise locally for a day. In this time, they traveled to Brookings, S.D., to see Prairie Aquatec and a greenhouse where soybean research is conducted, among other visits. They were then able to travel Northwest as planned to learn about the export market.
"It was so meaningful to see the end of the U.S. journey for the soybeans we produce in our fields," says farmer Adam Schindler. "To see the relationships and connections being formed was great - and it was fun to be around the huge ships."
TEMCO, a joint venture of CHS and Cargill, exports grain to overseas customers. While there, the group watched corn from South Dakota being loaded on a vessel bound for Korea, according to Ostrem.
Located in Seattle, the export terminal has a roof so ships can be loaded during rain. AGP at the Port of Grays Harbor is the top exporter of soybean meal on the west coast, moving approximately 1.25 million to 1.50 million metric tons annually. AGP operates nine soybean processing plants in the United States, with plans to open a new plant in Aberdeen, S.D.
"International trade is so important to our bottom line, to see the facilities and coordination that go into it is a value to farmers," Ostrem says.
At NOAA, the group visited the Northwest Fisheries Science Center, learning about the growing market for soybeans and soybean byproducts in fish diets. They also went to a BNSF railroad yard, where they learned about facilities, weather issues and coordination, unloading and loading of a ship.
Fifteen South Dakota farmers were selected to participate in the 2017 See for Yourself trip: Thomas Biddle, Geddes; Justin Davis, Ipswich; Cliff Elsen, Hecla; Tim Even, Humboldt; Tim Graber, Hurley; James Haak, Howard; Kevin Holler, Pierpoint; Marshall Kniffen, Pierre; Morgan Kontz, Colman; Scott McManus, Fulton; Adam Schindler, Reliance; Jordan Scott, Valley Spring; Jeremy Stoecker, Onaka; Jerome Webb, Harrold; and Lee Wilkins, Mansfield. These farmers were selected through an application process with the South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council.
"I think the most important part is to show an interest in learning," said Schindler.
In addition to the selected farmers, two South Dakota Soybean Association directors, Kari VanderWal and Colin Nachtigal, and two South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council directors, Tim Ostrem and Todd Hanten, participated.