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Specialty Soya and Grains Alliance introduces U.S. Identity Preserved designation

Customers who purchase a U.S. Identity Preserved product can be assured the grains are traceable from their fields of origin throughout the process of production, processing, packaging and distribution, according to the SSGA.

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Eric Wenberg, executive director for Specialty Soya and Grains Alliance, speaks at the launch for The U.S. Identity Preserved plan on Dec. 2, 2021, in Minneapolis. Noah Fish / Agweek
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MINNEAPOLIS — The Specialty Soya and Grains Alliance unveiled a new designation — U.S. Identity Preserved — which signifies a premium crop with a verifiable origin. The SSGA presented the plan at a Dec. 2 launch in the North Loop of downtown Minneapolis.

According to SSGA, the quality assurance program "represents a significant advancement in food traceability" for manufacturers processors and exporters of food. The U.S. Identity Preserved plan has a website, USidentitypreserved.org , where customers can look for grains with specific traits from variety, protein and sugar levels, color, bean size or flavor.

Eric Wenberg, executive director for SSGA, said the identification plan will help processors and exporters broaden access to foreign markets, and "bring together the U.S. IP industry and reinforce the United States as a quality origin for those IP crops."

Wenberg has been executive director for the short time that SSGA has existed, and he believes the alliance has a very big future ahead. The The U.S. Identity Preserved plan is one of its first steps.

"We're asking everyone to take a look at (The U.S. Identity Preserved plan), who's involved in the premium market," said Wenberg. "We'd like to grow interest in this as an education tool, grow interest in this as a way to work together, so we can create a wonderful message for our for our foreign customer."

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That message, said Wenberg, is that " this is value that adds value".

He said the support the alliance has from the Iowa Soybean Association, Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council, North Dakota Soybean Council and Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board proves how necessary its work is.

SSGA
The Specialty Soya and Grains Alliance's U.S. Identity Preserved plan launched on Dec. 2, 2021, in Minneapolis. Noah Fish / Agweek


"We have constituent support from the U.S. Soybean Export Council, The United Soybean Board and the American Soybean Association," said Webnberg, who said that the Dec. 2 event was in part sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Services, Foreign Market Development Program.

A launch partner for the The U.S. Identity Preserved Plan is Global Processing Inc., and it will begin using the new mark signifying the value of U.S. Identity Preserved field crops,” said Rob Prather, chief strategic ambassador for Global Processing.

“This program enhances our offerings in sustainable, traceable and regenerative products ensuring a stable, consistent and healthy global food supply," said Prather.

There's a growing consumer and retail demand for increased understanding of how and where food is produced, according to SSGA.

Grower support

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Eric Wenberg, executive director for Specialty Soya and Grains Alliance, speaks at the launch for The U.S. Identity Preserved plan on Dec. 2, 2021, in Minneapolis. Noah Fish / Agweek

Growers participating in the U.S. Identity Preserved plan, such as Raquel Hansen who was at the event on Dec. 2, have to follow specifications from pre-planting to harvest, then to storage, processing and distribution. Hansen co-owns Hansen Farms in Owatonna, Minnesota, and Hope Hills Farms in Hope, Minnesota, with with her husband, Todd, and their adult son, Eric.

"I'm excited for tonight," said Hansen on Dec. 2. "I think this is a great opportunity for the farmers, for the processors, for industry alliances and ultimately for the customers."

The Hansen family grows corn and soybeans on a few thousand acres in southern Minnesota and this year they transitioned a small amount of acreage to organic for the program. Hansen said they're also contracted to grow around 4,000 hogs and have about 50 steers they feed out.

Overall she said, the transition to organic wasn't that difficult.

"We put it into alfalfa hay, and just given the number of dairies that we have fairly close to us, it was a good transition," said Hansen, who said they also used hog manure off their system to help with the fertilizer program. "This year growing corn was successful, in our first production of organic, and overall a really good crop."

Hansen, a fifth-generation farmer, said that her and Todd have been in the corn and soybean industry their entire lives, and the U.S. Identity Preserved plan gets to the core of their attention.

"Identity preservation has actually been a part of my life since about 1977," said Hansen, when her parents and grandparents helped start a small company that focused on waxy corn and specialty soybeans.

"Ever since then, my family has grown some type of identity preserved crops," she said. "And really find value in the niche market that it is, and value in the pride that it takes growing s quality product."

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Hansen said the biggest change in the industry has been the "movement and protection against the GMO-contamination."

"Identity preservation doesn't mean it has to be non-GMO, but that a large number of players in the business are focusing on non-GMO and organic, and trying to find that consistent supply," said Hansen. "And that dependable demand, too, that's out there."

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