After they’re harvested, soybeans have a lengthy journey ahead of them. 

A large amount of Northern Soy Marketing’s (NSM) member states’ – North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Nebraska – soybeans are sent to overseas markets through the Pacific Northwest (PNW). In July, soybean growers from North Dakota and South Dakota embarked on See For Yourself (SFY) programs to the PNW to witness where their soybeans leave the United States. 

The North Dakota Soybean Council (NDSC) began its SFY program in 2013 as a way for North Dakota soybean producers to learn about what happens to their soybeans once they depart North Dakota and head to the PNW. 

“This program is a way to share the impact and reach of the soy checkoff and the role it has in research, market development, education and more,” said Shireen Alemadi, NDSC’s outreach and education coordinator. “Attendees met the people and organizations that play an integral part in getting their soybeans to the PNW, processed and onto vessels that cross the ocean. Because it’s the path their beans take, it’s important for them to learn more about it.” 

Katelyn Engquist, NSM’s market development program manager, participated in North Dakota’s program.  

“I appreciated the opportunity to learn more about how soy grown in the northern-U.S. is exported around the world,” Engquist said. “It was eye-opening to see how many steps and players there are to make this happen.”  

On the South Dakota SFY program, growers visited the Federal Grain Inspection Service and the Washington state capital in Olympia, then Port of Grays Harbor in Aberdeen, CHS/Cargill Export Terminal, Port of Seattle and BNSF Stacy Yard all in Seattle. They also took time to visit some of the Seattle hot spots, including Pike’s Market and the Space Nettle. 

“Here in South Dakota, we regularly see the beans from the seed planted, grown, harvested and then delivered to the elevator,” said South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council Market Development and Research Director Johnna Ringkob. “See For Yourself allows producers to see what happens to the beans after the elevator, specifically when they are prepared to be shipped internationally to soybean markets worldwide, which is why it was perfect to visit the PNW as it is a large export for products going to China, Japan and other parts of Asia.” 

As NSM continues their efforts of growing the demand of northern-grown soybeans, opportunities like these See For Yourself programs allow soybean growers to see firsthand the path the product they grow takes on its way to global markets.