Rows of healthy agricultural soybean crops. Beautiful sunset landscape.

South Dakota Soybean Farmers Experience Soybean Export Process Firsthand Through Checkoff See for Yourself Program

Apr 07, 2017

With support from the South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council, 15 South Dakota soybean farmers traveled to Washington State to tour port facilities and learn about the importance of international markets to the soybean industry. In its sixth year, the See for Yourself experience allows South Dakota soybean farmers the opportunity to experience firsthand how their soybean checkoff works for them.

During the recent mission, attendees toured Ag Processing Inc (AGP) at the Port of Grays Harbor, the Tacoma Export Marketing Company (TEMCO), an aquaculture facility at a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) site, and Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway at the Seattle International Gateway Intermodal Facility. The farmers also had the opportunity to hear from the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

“The See for Yourself program was an amazing way to learn more about the export process of the soybeans that we grow. It takes a lot of people to get our products moved to the ports, loaded on ships and delivered to customers all around the world. The tour showed us first hand that our checkoff dollars are being used in effective and efficient ways” said Jordan Scott, soybean farmer from Valley Springs.

Grays Harbor is home to the number one exporter of soybean meal on the west coast, AGP. AGP is a farmer-owned cooperative involved in procurement, processing, marketing and transportation of grains and soybeans. AGP includes 172 local cooperatives representing over 250,000 U.S. and Canadian farmers. The company operates nine soybean processing plants across the country with plans to open a new soybean processing plant in Aberdeen, South Dakota.

Between 1.25 million metric tons (MMT) and 1.50 MMT of grain moves through AGP at Grays Harbor annually. The South Dakota soybean checkoff partners with AGP to bring buyers to visit farms in South Dakota and visit AGP’s export facilities in the Pacific Northwest. This establishes relationships with Asian buyers in an effort to increase sales of U.S. soybeans and soybean meal.

The See For Yourself participants observed export facilities loading grain onto large ships destined for overseas customers while visiting the ports. At TEMCO, the group witnessed a vessel destined for Korea loaded with corn from Mitchell and Emery grain elevators.

A tour of NOAA highlighted the increased market for soybean meal for aquaculture production. Some fish, such as rainbow trout, are better able to digest soy protein, and this offers new opportunities for South Dakota soybean farmers.

Over 60 percent of South Dakota’s soybean crop travels by rail from South Dakota to the Pacific Northwest, which is the gateway to the Asian market. The tour at BNSF gave farmer participants the opportunity to learn more about transportation from South Dakota to the port.

The following South Dakota soybean farmers participated in the program: Thomas Biddle, Geddes; Cliff Elsen, Hecla; Tim Graber, Hurley; Kevin Holler, Pierpont; Justin Davis, Ipswich; Tim Even, Humboldt; James Haak, Howard; Marshall Kniffen, Pierre; Morgan Kontz, Colman; Adam Schindler, Reliance; Jeremy Stoecker; Onaka; Lee Wilkins, Mansfield; Scott McManus, Fulton; Jordan Scott, Valley Springs and Jerome Webb, Harrold.

The annual See For Yourself program is sponsored by the South Dakota Soybean Research & Promotion Council, the soybean checkoff organization. Visit for more information on the See For Yourself program and future application opportunities.