NSM’s Midwest Crop Tour gives buyers up close look at soy quality

When a group of Southeast Asian buyers stepped off the chartered bus and onto Patrick O’Leary’s farm in Danvers, Minnesota, the chair of Northern Soy Marketing (NSM) greeted a few familiar faces.

“I recognized some of them from a trip NSM took earlier this year to Indonesia and Thailand,” O’Leary said. “It’s always a good sign when visits like these are reciprocated.”

The tour of O’Leary’s farm was the second stop in NSM’s inaugural Midwest Crop Tour, which took place Sept. 11-15 in North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota and Nebraska, respectively, before ending in the Pacific Northwest.

“These trips are really beneficial and bring things full circle,” O’Leary said. “It’s important that both sides have a full understanding of each other.”

O’Leary is a fourth-generation producer from Benson and farms with his two brothers and father. O’Leary grows soybeans and corn, and his family contract grows hogs. In addition to the work on their farm, the O’Learys also sell seed and have a custom farming business.

During the trade team tour, which took place as soybean harvest approached, O’Leary gave an overview of his operation; displayed farm equipment; showed his grain storage facilities and highlighted how technology advancements and sustainable practices help preserve his land.

“We’re trying to manage that fertility and not over-fertilize,” he said.

O’Leary explained to his guests how his 2023 soybean crop had only received about 30-40% of its usual rainfall.

“The (crop) still looks mostly good,” he said. “We’re just seeing aborted pods because of the dryness. They’re smaller, but it won’t affect their quality.”

Upper Midwest-grown soybeans also contain low Foreign Material (FM) and have low moisture content, O’Leary said.

“When these beans leave this farm, they are clean and of high-quality,” O’Leary told his customers.

Chayut Pattananusintu, a crop analytics officer with the Bangkok Produce Merchandising Public Company, returned to the Upper Midwest after meeting O’Leary while touring AGP’s facilities last year.

“It’s important to learn the basics of soybean and corn production – what you should do and what you shouldn’t do,” he said. “The farmers here have a lot of experience, and we have to learn from them, step-by-step.”