As I sit in my combine watching the harvest fill up grain cart after grain cart, I’m sure I’ll wonder at times where my soybeans will find a home and who will use them. Considering this year’s challenges, I’m sure these concerns may be on the minds of other growers, too.
There’s no debate that the soybean market caused a few headaches and sleepless nights the past few months. Between turbulent trade talks and less than ideal weather, this growing season has been a rollercoaster ride. Even with the highs and lows this year, I’m optimistic about where the market is headed and how it will benefit Illinois growers.
I am a long-standing proponent in getting boots on the ground and building relationships to increase trade with international organizations. Bringing foreign delegations and representatives to Illinois to visit farms, cooperatives and elevators gives them the opportunity to see first-hand the superior soybeans coming out of Illinois.
Visiting with foreign officials on their turf is equally important. Traveling internationally gives us a clearer view of other countries’ needs and how we can meet them. Both hosting visitors here and traveling to their home countries helps build important personal relationships that are so vital to the health of our industry. Relationships foster export sales that lead to homes for our soybeans and more money in growers’ pockets.
Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) is committed to organizing strategic trade missions and building relationships to protect and grow soybean markets. In fact, ISA hosts more than 30 trade visits per year for foreign buyers and officials interested in knowing more about Illinois soybeans. These visits pay dividends, both short- and long-term.
For example, last month ISA was at the table when a Taiwan trade delegation signed a letter of intent to buy between 96 and 97 million bushels of soybeans between 2020 and 2021. Estimated value of these purchases is US$1 billion to US$1.1 billion. This exciting news is a huge leap forward for Illinois soybean markets. Even with the tough growing season, it’s comforting to know that new markets are opening for our soybeans. But we’re not stopping there.
Most recently in September, I hosted a trade delegation from the European Union at my farm. During their visit, we discussed policy, U.S. crop conditions and of course, trade relations. In the past, I have hosted groups from countries all over the world including Latin America, Indonesia, China and more. It is extremely gratifying to visit with these delegations face-to-face and answer their questions about Illinois soybeans.
Having foreign officials on my farm shows firsthand that Illinois soybeans are simply the highest quality. International buyers often tell us they prefer our soybeans over those from other countries. Although export markets have decreased this year, we still have the opportunity to store our soybeans and keep them export ready.
When you store your soybeans, remember to follow best practices for harvest and storage to maintain soybean quality. Experts suggest you keep soybeans between 12-13 percent moisture, core your bins to rotate the crop, use fans to keep soybeans cool and dry, and check your crop every two weeks in winter and every week in warmer months. Combined, this monitoring plan will ensure your soybean quality remains high months down the road. It’s critical in ISA’s mission—to ensure Illinois soy is the highest quality, most dependable and competitive in the global marketplace.
Strengthening relationships between trade delegations helps to maintain the viability of our soybean crop and overall livelihood. As a soybean farmer, I know the importance of trade to the success of our business. Trade team visits and missions are great opportunities to protect already existing markets and find new opportunities to grow.
When I return to my house after long days of harvest this fall, I’ll rest well knowing that ISA has invested checkoff dollars into finding a home for the 2019 soybean crop. To stay updated on Illinois soybean trade and other industry news, visit ilsoy.org.
This article originally appeared in Illinois AgriNews and has been adapted for ILSoyAdvisor readers.