SOYBEAN TRADE ...

Trade travels build business, personal ties

Nebraska farmers export more than half of the soybeans they grow

Strong export markets don’t just happen. It takes a lot of time and effort to build the kinds of relationships necessary to sell more soybeans abroad. (Kevin Dooley via Flickr)

LINCOLN — Nebraska farmers export more than half of the soybeans they grow. Nationwide, more than 60 percent of the soybean crop is shipped to other nations. But strong export markets don’t just happen. It takes a lot of time and effort to build the kinds of relationships necessary to sell more soybeans abroad.

Chapman soybean farmer Greg Greving has seen the value of meeting with overseas customers and getting to know them on a personal level firsthand. Greving is a past director on the United Soybean Board and an ex officio member of the Nebraska Soybean Board. He recently returned from a trade mission to the Philippines and Thailand, one of several visits he’s made to Southeast Asia since 2013.

“Someone once told me the Asian people value a contact more than a contract, and I’ve found that to be very true,” said Greving. “It’s important for U.S. farmer leaders to meet with overseas customers and put a face on American soybean producers.”

The Philippines is the second largest customer for U.S. soybean meal, and Greving has seen every step of the supply chain there—from the unloading facilities to feed mills and, ultimately, the livestock producers and aquaculture facilities that use the soybean meal. In return, Greving has hosted visitors from the Philippines and other Southeast Asian nations at his farm during harvest. He’s made lasting friendships that go beyond business.

“The first time I hosted a delegation, I made sure to include my parents and my sons, who farm with me, because it was important to my guests to meet my family.”

Over the years, Greving has made a lot of friends through the trade visits, including family members of the largest importer of soybeans in the Philippines. The quality and reliability of U.S. soybeans are important to all customers, but so is the friendship.

“We’re friends on Facebook and frequently talk on the phone. They’ll ask how my beans are doing, and I can just post a picture to keep them up-to-date,” said Greving.

The most recent trade mission was conducted in cooperation with grain marketer AGP, which sponsors annual trips to Southeast Asia to promote understanding between soybean farmers and their overseas customers.

About the Nebraska Soybean Board: The nine-member Nebraska Soybean Board collects and disburses the Nebraska share of funds generated by the one-half of one percent times the net sales price per bushel of soybeans sold. Nebraska soybean checkoff funds are invested in research, education, domestic and foreign markets and new uses for soybeans and soybean products.

— Nebraska Soybean Checkoff

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