For nearly a decade, the tri-state partnership between the North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota soybean councils has invested heavily in changing the dialogue on how feed buyers and nutritionists value the quality of soybeans in feed rations. The three soybean councils formed Northern Soy Marketing, LLC (NSM) to grow the essential amino acids (EAA) brand abroad.

The purpose of NSM is to encourage the soybean marketplace, particularly international buyers, to recognize EAA concentration, rather than crude protein, as the most complete and best indicator of soybean quality and feeding value. NSM has recently expanded its target audiences to include foreign governments and regulatory bodies, soy industry collaborators, and the domestic supply chain.

“Now that our foreign customers understand and have heard our messages about the value of EAA in feed rations, it’s time to bridge the gap and work with the supply chain so they can speak the same language about the quality of northern grown beans,” says Mike Langseth, NSM chairman and producer from N.D. “That’s why NSM has expanded its audiences to include some of these domestic influencers.”

While NSM continues to focus much of its work on foreign buyers in China, Thailand, Vietnam, Mexico and the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Myanmar are a few of its secondary audiences. A recent trip brought an NSM delegation to a few of these target audiences, before the coronavirus outbreak brought travel to a halt.

Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC) board member Patrick O’Leary, Seth Naeve, University of Minnesota soybean agronomist, consultant Peter Mishek and South Dakota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (SDSRPC) board member David Struck, traveled to Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia to meet with buyers and highlight the quality of northern-grown soybeans. When meeting with these feed producers, buyers, nutritionists and trading companies, the NSM delegation gave presentations about the 2019-2020 crop conditions and protein quality research.

“Myanmar is a very interesting country,” O’Leary said. “From a feed standpoint, it’s an up and coming country, with significant potential with the expansions that are going on.”

Another part of the trip visited ongoing poultry feeding trials in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to review the status of the trials that are evaluating the growth of broiler chickens fed with soybeans and soybean meals of different origins and different crude protein and Critical Amino Acid Value (CAAV) profiles.

“Malaysia went very well. They’re in the process of some feeding trials and it was a good discussion and things are moving forward,” said O’Leary. “We hope it’s going to be a positive scenario for the northern soy growers.”

Aside from the recent Southeast Asia trip, NSM took part in the inaugural Northern Commodity Transportation Conference (NCTC) in Bloomington, Minn., in March. This conference brought together farmers, first purchasers, commodity organizations and political officials to share transportation issues, similarities and opportunities for corn, soybeans and wheat grown in the tri-state region. NSM was a major sponsor of the event and conducted side meetings with grain elevator staff from the tri-state region. At these side meetings, attendees learned how and why northern grown soybeans possess a higher EAA content, and why this content is important, especially in crushing, and how it produces a higher quality feed for monogastric livestock.

An ongoing NSM project conducted by Naeve is education to northern farmers about the potential consequences of delivering soybeans with high levels of foreign material (FM) to local elevators and the larger downstream effects on soybean exports to foreign markets such as China. Educational materials, including electronic and print materials, PowerPoint presentations and short videos, are being developed to discuss all aspects of maintaining high quality soybeans for domestic utilization and export. Stay tuned for the release of these materials, which will be used at producer meetings across the tri-state region as well as available online.

“It’s important that northern producers maintain the quality of soybeans we grow,” Langseth says. “Knowledge is power, so Seth’s project will assure that producers are continually learning the best practices and continuing to deliver the highest quality soybeans they can.”

The work for NSM isn’t over, despite coronavirus preventing international travel for an unknown period of time.

“Since we won’t be traveling to Asia, or anywhere internationally in the near future, this is a time for NSM to focus on our domestic audiences and continue collaboration with other soy industry partners,” Langseth says. “We see the soy industry catching up to what feed formulators and regulators have known for a while: that a really good monogastric feed ration is based on EAA, not just crude protein.”