With support from the South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council, soybean farmers traveled to Washington State to tour port facilities and learn about the importance of international markets to the soybean industry. In its fifth year, the See for Yourself experience allows South Dakota soybean farmers the opportunity to see firsthand how their soybean checkoff works for them.
The group’s first stop was the Port of Grays Harbor. Located only 12 nautical miles or 1.5 hours from open ocean, Grays Harbor operates four deep-water marine terminals and hundreds of acres of marine industrial property. Grays Harbor is the second oldest port in the state of Washington at 105 years old.
Grays Harbor is a significant outlet for ag exports from the Pacific Northwest, particularly for shipping soybeans and soybean meal to Asia. In addition, the port also exports corn, DDGS, biodiesel, seafood, automobiles, timber and other liquid and dry bulk products.
Grays Harbor is home to the number one exporter of soybean meal on the west coast Ag Processing, Inc. (AGP). AGP is a farmer-owned cooperative engaged in the procurement, processing, marketing and transportation of grains and grain products. AGP includes 172 local cooperatives representing over 250,000 U.S. and Canadian farmers. AGP operates nine soybean processing plants with plans to open a new soybean processing plant in Aberdeen, South Dakota.
South Dakota’s soybeans are transported by rail to the AGP facility at Grays Harbor. On average it takes 4-5 days to unload 440-550 rail cars of soybeans onto a panamax vessel, which is one of the largest ships used for exporting commodities. A panamax vessel can travel to the Philippians in 18 days with a load of exported product.
“I could not wait to see our South Dakota soybeans and meal unloaded from the rail cars and loaded onto the large panamax vessels bound for Asian markets,” said Todd Hanten, South Dakota Soybean Research & Promotion Council director and Goodwin farmer. “The sheer volume exported and the economic impact soybean production has not only in our state, but even in Washington State, is very impressive.”
Follow the blog as the See for Yourself group continues their journey in Washington State.