Unlocking the Pacific Northwest: South Dakota Soybeans on a Global Journey

August 8, 2023

The South Dakota Soybean Checkoff recently embarked on an eye-opening tour of transportation and ports in the Pacific Northwest (PNW), shedding light on the incredible journey soybeans from South Dakota take to reach their overseas markets, predominantly in Asia. From July 11-14, 2023, thirteen soybean farmers from South Dakota, along with two soybean staff members, embarked on this educational voyage, aiming to understand and appreciate the intricate logistics behind exporting soybeans.

Derrick Scott, District 2 Director of the South Dakota Soybean Checkoff, hailing from Geddes, SD, was one of the participants on the tour. He emphasized the importance of South Dakota farmers understanding the ever-evolving demand for their high-quality product. "Our soybeans are renowned for their quality, and it's vital for our farmers to understand the global demand for them," Scott explained. "This tour has showcased the complex yet efficient journey our soybeans undertake from our fields to overseas markets."

One of the primary objectives of the South Dakota Soybean Checkoff is to improve domestic and international transportation and market access for South Dakota soybeans. Scott highlighted this commitment, saying, "The Checkoff is dedicated to enhancing every aspect of the soybean supply chain. This includes not only producing top-quality soybeans but also ensuring they can reach their intended destinations in a timely and efficient manner."

The tour started at the Washington State Department of Agriculture Grain Inspection Department, where the participants delved into the inspection processes for both imports and exports originating from Washington state. This provided a crucial insight into the rigorous quality control measures that ensure U.S. soybeans meet the highest international standards.

One of the highlights of the tour was a stop at the Port of Gray's Harbor. This port, dating back to 1911, is the second oldest public port in Washington state, trailing only behind the Port of Seattle. It stands as a testament to the rich maritime history of the Pacific Northwest. Located just 12 nautical miles from the open sea, or a mere 1.5 hours, the Port of Gray's Harbor serves as a vital gateway for South Dakota soybeans to embark on their global journey.

AGP Tour
AGP Tour with Panamax Freighter

In Aberdeen, Washington, the tour group had the opportunity to tour AGP's soybean meal export terminal. Here, they witnessed firsthand the intricate process of loading bulk soybean meal onto ships. This terminal plays a pivotal role in ensuring that South Dakota's soybean meal reaches developing overseas markets, especially with booming soybean oil demand from new fuel markets.

B100 Fueled Truck

Clean Fuels Alliance America (CFAA) made a significant contribution to the tour by shedding light on the increasing use and demand for biodiesel, renewable diesel, and sustainable aviation fuel across the United States, with a particular emphasis on the West Coast. As the world pivots toward more sustainable energy sources, soy-based fuels are gaining prominence. Star Oil Co., a long-term biodiesel supplier, even brought a fuel truck running on B100 biodiesel, illustrating the real-world applications of these eco-friendly fuels. CFAA's dedication to exploring new markets and addressing policy barriers aligns seamlessly with South Dakota's

commitment to sustainable agriculture and transportation.

Tacoma, WA

Another noteworthy stop on the tour was TEMCO, a joint terminal operated by Cargill and CHS. This terminal specializes in shipping whole soybeans and boasts a unique feature - a roof over the loading area. This innovation ensures that soybeans can be loaded continuously, even during the frequently rainy weather in Washington. The efficiency of operations at TEMCO is vital in maintaining the supply chain's integrity and ensuring that South Dakota soybeans arrive at their destinations promptly.

Port of Seattle Container Shipping

The Port of Seattle, a major hub for container shipping, was also on the tour itinerary. Here, soybeans are transported by rail to the port area before being carefully loaded into shipping containers. This final leg of the journey exemplifies the intricate logistics required to ensure South Dakota soybeans reach their overseas markets efficiently and intact.

The South Dakota Soybean Checkoff's See For Yourself tour of transportation and ports in the Pacific Northwest, as emphasized by SD farmer and Checkoff Director Derrick Scott, provided invaluable insights into the journey that soybeans from South Dakota embark upon before reaching their foreign customers. From stringent inspections to innovative export terminals, this journey showcases the dedication and precision of all those involved in ensuring the success of South Dakota's soybean exports. Moreover, with a growing focus on sustainable fuels and transportation, the tour underscored the pivotal role that soy-based fuels can play in shaping the future of both agriculture and transportation in the United States and beyond.