Minnesota farmers are among the world’s best at producing food. Whether it’s for people or animals, the state’s farmers are feeding hungry mouths the world over. In 1960, the average American farmer produced enough food for 25 people. Today, thanks to greater efficiency and productivity, that number is 155 people.
The process of growing food is beginning again here in Minnesota as farmers are tilling the fields and planting the seeds of another crop. As the weather and soil warm, the pace will quicken as farmers race to get their crops in the ground during the optimal window of opportunity.
While the process is just getting started, few people think about what happens to Minnesota’s crop once it’s harvested. Some Minnesota farmers have a clearer picture of where their soybean products end up once they’re harvested. More than a dozen soybean farmers participated in a recent visit to the Philippines and Japan, two substantial markets for U.S. soybean and meat products.
“I think overall, it’s a good indication of what’s going on throughout the world,” says Warroad, Minn. farmer and Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council director Drew Parsley. “Over 50 percent of our soybeans are exported throughout the world. There are multiple uses from fish to pork to all the different animals out there that are eating soy.”
Japan is Minnesota’s third largest soybean customer as well as a substantial importer of meat products from soybean-fed livestock. The Philippines is an emerging market with great potential for increased soybean usage. In both instances, the quality of Minnesota products doesn’t go unnoticed.
See For Yourself participants visited supermarkets, a grain unloading terminal, a meat storage and distribution center, ham and sausage processing facility, a tofu production company, an aquaculture facility and more. The farmers also met with feed manufacturers, soybean buyers and meat suppliers in an effort to help build ever important relationships.
“Really when it comes down to it, those of us who raise corn and soybeans in the Midwest, we’re in the food business,” says Clontarf, Minn. farmer Richard Syverson. “What we’ve seen is some incredible variety and diverse cultures. But when it comes down to it, people need to eat, people want to eat and people enjoy eating. Food is not only for the body, but for the soul, too, it’s a social thing and we’ve experienced that in the different social settings where food is the means for people to build relationships together. The key thing is, I’m not producing a commodity; I’m producing somebody’s meal.”
Having a better understanding of the entire food production cycle from planting in Minnesota to final consumption half a world away, brings the process full circle.
“It makes me very proud to be a farmer from southwestern Minnesota,” adds Joel Schreurs, a farmer from Tyler, Minn. “With these different organizations being able to promote our products and for us to come back to see how our products are utilized within these countries is very rewarding to me and should be for all American farmers.”