For the past several years, South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota soybean checkoff boards have jointly supported efforts to research and promote the value of northern-grown soybeans based on their amino acid content. Farmer-leaders from these three states regularly trumpet the essential amino acids message when teams come through on trade missions or when promotion soybeans abroad.
China is by far the world’s largest importer of soybeans. To make sure soybeans from Minnesota, North and South Dakota are part of the mix, soybean farmers, researchers and marketing experts representing the three states spent time in China and Taiwan on a mission to get buyers there to look at soybeans differently.
Typically penalized because soybeans grown in northern climates are lower in crude protein, research supported by the Dakotas and Minnesota has shown that the critical amino acid value is a better measures of the value of soybean meal for livestock production.
“We’ve always valued soybeans and meal based on the protein level, but animals don’t need protein,” says Seth Naeve, soybean agronomist at the University of Minnesota. “They (animals) don’t have a protein requirement, they have an amino acid requirement, and amino acids are what make up protein. We’re helping purchasers understand that it’s not just the total amount of amino acids, but the ratio of the most critically limiting amino acids that is real the driver.”
Danvers, Minnesota, farmer Patrick O’Leary, Casselton, North Dakota, farmer Joe Morken, international marketing consultant Peter Mishek, University of Minnesota soybean agronomist Dr. Seth Naeve and U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) Animal Utilization Technical Director Richard Han met with representatives from China’s top feed producers during an active week. The group met with the feed manufacturers to help explain the value soy essential amino acids have for livestock and to illustrate how the presence and balance of those essential amino acids give a better indicator of soy quality.
Convincing nutritionists and purchasers to look a meal quality differently presents an opportunity to market beans from the Upper Midwest to the world’s top soybean buying country.
“We visited with all of the top five feed mills in China,” Morken says. “When you can get that one-on-one interaction with the top five in China, and we all know their size of population, that’s impressive.”
Feed mills in China produce swine, poultry and fish feed, all with soy as a main ingredient. China imports whole beans from the United States because of ample crushing capacity. Because of the sheer volume of feed produced, U.S. soybeans are a main ingredient in millions of tons of livestock feed.
Because soybeans from the Dakotas and Minnesota can reach China in about 30 days through the Pacific Northwest, helping purchasers understand the value high quality meal provides could open markets for more exports into China.
Following the mission to China, the delegation headed to Taiwan for more sessions. Check back on the blog for more on this EAA mission.