South Dakota soybean farmers ‘See for Themselves’

Farm Forum

More than 60 percent of South Dakota’s soybean crop is exported to international customers annually, making the international market an important component of the state’s agricultural industry. The South Dakota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (SDSRPC) recently hosted 15 farmers on a “See for Yourself” educational program to the Pacific Northwest to see up close how their soybean checkoff dollars are being invested in the international marketplace.

The three-day mission in Washington state examined the many links of the international marketing chain, as Washington is a crucial port for the export of South Dakota soybeans to China and Southeast Asia. The mission gave farmers the opportunity to see their checkoff dollars at work, ensuring increases in productivity, profitability and demand. Stops on the tour included the Port of Grays Harbor, Ag Processing, Inc. (AGP), Imperium Renewables, Tacoma Export Marketing Company (TEMCO) and Icicle Seafoods.

The relevancy of the tour highlighted the fact that the Port of Grays Harbor is the primary export hub of American grown soybean meal. Other products shipped from Grays Harbor include biodiesel, automobiles, liquids and bulk products.

Darrin Erdmann, a farmer from Groton, S.D., said he gained a better understanding of the value of the checkoff and learned more about what the industry is doing and why. “As farmers, we hear that they aren’t using soybeans for biodiesel or aren’t using soybean meal for fish food and on this trip we learned why – because we are selling to a higher value market and getting a better return,” Erdmann said.

The South Dakota soybean farmers also visited TEMCO, a grain facility at the Port of Tacoma. TEMCO is the fastest loading/discharge yard in the country and contains 100 miles of rail. “It was neat to see the facilities and walk around the grain leg at the port,” Erdmann said. “Our tour guides did a great job connecting the path of our soybeans after they leave our fields.”

The participants agreed that other farmers need to take advantage of the opportunity to see exports firsthand.

“I would absolutely encourage other farmers to attend the trip next year. The knowledge gained from peers on the trip as well as from board members is invaluable,” Erdmann said. “It is important to know what our association is doing for us.”

The delegation of South Dakota farmers included Erdmann, Nathan Davis of Ipswich, John Millan of Mitchell, Roger Schaeffer of Viborg, Morgan Holler of Groton, Jeff Thompson of Colton, Doyle Rneaas of Nunda, Richard Werner of Huron, Mike Deinert of Mt. Vernon, Joseph Luther from Hazel, Myles Brockmueller of Freeman, Daryl Terveen of Emery, James Jepsen of Flandreau, Donnie Miles of Doland, and Brandon Wipf of Huron. The group was joined by SDSRPC representatives Kelly Nelson, Matthew Bainbridge and Bob Metz. Tom Steever of Brownfield Ag News also attended and reported daily radio updates from the trip

If you are a South Dakota soybean farmer and are interested in seeing these locations for yourself or learning more about your checkoff dollars, join us next year for our See For Yourself international marketing mission. For more information on the program, please contact the SDSRPC office at 605-333-9942 or visit