Growing Opportunities: ASA director hosts Korean trade team

Categories: WSAPublished On: June 21, 20232.4 min read

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Wisconsin soybean farmers grow a premium product.  

On June 15, a group of Korean feed mill CEOs got a glimpse of what it takes to raise quality soybeans when they spent the morning with Wisconsin farmer Tanner Johnson. Johnson hosted the delegation on a farm in Dallas, Wisc., where Korean buyers walked through a soybean field. 

“Everybody knows that the quality of U.S. soybean meal (SBM) is better than Brazil, but it all comes down to the price,” said Sang-Suk Cha, vice chairman of Hanil Feed and Food. “U.S. soybean meal (SBM) has great quality and when we use it in the feed, we feel the efficiency.” 

While at the farm, the group, which was organized by the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC), not only learned about the farming operation but also about seed sales and agronomy consulting. This led to conversations surrounding sustainable production practices. 

“The first step to profitability is sustainability,” said Johnson, who represents Wisconsin on the American Soybean Association. “By implementing sustainable practices, we reduce our use of inputs, which in turn saves us money. Not to mention that we are being good stewards of the land so that future generations can continue farming.” 

With a projected increase in U.S. SBM supply on the horizon, the group spent much of their trip preparing for future possibilities. The stop in Wisconsin was an opportunity to see firsthand where their final product is born. 

“Hosting the trade team was a lot of fun for me personally because I enjoy every chance I get to do some teaching in the field,” Johnson said. “The quality and depth of questions asked by the trade team was quite impressive and it was obvious to me that they care a lot about where their soybeans are coming from and the quality of said soybeans.” 

If given the opportunity, Korea is ready to buy more U.S. SBM. In 2022, Korea imported 14,000 metric tons of U.S. SBM.  

“We used to import a lot of U.S. soybean meal but due to the prices, we haven’t recently imported a lot from the States,” Cha said. “We look forward to the future market because I heard that the demand for the supply of soybean meal in the States will increase. So maybe in the fall and winter we hope to import U.S. soybean meal.” 

The future looks bright for the U.S. SBM industry and thanks to trade team visits with farmer leaders, Wisconsin can showcase its soybean production and nurture key relationships in international markets. 

“As American soybean farmers, we know we grow a high-quality product, but we can’t be all around the world to tell our story,” Johnson said. “So, getting these opportunities to show people involved in the soybean business from around the world is vital to us telling our story and showing them firsthand how and why we do what we do.”