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Angie Wieck, Published October 01 2013

Southeast Asian trade delegation tours area farms to check out soybean harvest

FARGO – A trade delegation of buyers, traders and wholesalers from China, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand made stops Tuesday at an elevator and two farms near here to take samples of this year’s soybean harvest.

Tour guide Stephanie Sinner said the group seemed to enjoy its first day out on the farm.

Sinner, director of marketing for the North Dakota Soybean Council, said delegates took a ride in a combine where they took samples as the combine unloaded.

The tour was organized by the state Soybean Council and funded by “checkoffs” (fees) collected from area producers. The money is used for programs such as international marketing, research, producer education and consumer awareness.

It is important for international customers to see firsthand how area soybean producers provide a high-quality, reliable product, said Soybean Council CEO Diana Beitelspacher.

“We find that our international customers are very relationship-focused, so they really like the opportunity to get out on the farms and meet the producers who actually grow the soybeans,” she said.

Even with less than ideal growing conditions, Beitelspacher is optimistic about a good harvest this year.

While the USDA reports only 15 percent of soybeans as harvested, yields have ranged from 20 bushels per acre all the way up to 50 to 55 bushels per acre. Over the years, the state averages 25 to 30 bushel per acre.

Cass County is the No. 1 county in the U.S. for soybean production, and North Dakota ranks ninth overall among the states.

Southeast Asian countries are highly invested in soybean production here. In 2012, China was the No. 1 importer of U.S. soybeans importing 24 million metric tons. Indonesia was second with 2 million metric tons.

Beitelspacher believes the trade mission will go a long way in building the delegation’s trust and confidence in North Dakota soybeans.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Angie Wieck at (701) 241-5501