When more than 200 company representatives convene for business development and networking, it yields sales.

The U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) in partnership with the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) hosted the 3rd Ag Supply Chain Asia 2021 as a virtual conference Jan. 26-28. More than 500 attendees from 31 countries convened to hear from expert speakers, expand their agribusiness network and learn about the latest supply and demand trends, as well as policy updates.

All aspects of the soy supply chain were represented from importers and exporters to soybean farmers and suppliers of feed ingredients. Additionally, many regional government representatives, ag co-operators and U.S. government agencies showed their support by attending the conference.

“Southeast Asia continues to be a region that holds tremendous potential for U.S. Soy,” said Tim Loh, USSEC regional director, Southeast Asia. “The agricultural landscape in this part of the world is diverse with a growing population that consumes large amounts of U.S. Soy and soybean products.

“Looking ahead, it is important that USSEC continue to invest in our partnerships in this region even further.”

To kick off the three-day event, Jim Sutter, USSEC CEO, and Ryan LeGrand, USGC CEO, welcomed attendees, highlighting the importance of partnerships and the history of both organizations in the region.

“At USSEC, we have been focused on fostering existing relationships and building new ones in evolving and growing markets,” Sutter said. “Southeast Asia has a bright future when it comes to U.S. Soy. … We look forward to being able to enhance and strengthen our relationships in the years to come.”

LeGrand added: “Our collective goal is to expand the global market for U.S. grains, oil seeds and related products, including here in Southeast Asia. We know this goal is best reached when our work serves our customers, as much as it does our members, the U.S. farmer, U.S. agribusiness sector and various ag-related organizations. As we move into 2021 and beyond, our goal is to make our partnership even stronger and remain a consistent supplier to your industry and your customers.”

The conference provided in-depth market perspectives and strategic direction through panels such as one featuring ag exporters. Here, participants heard from Craig Pietig of AG Processing Inc., Ben Seiler of Flint Hills Resources, Brian Wittenborn of The Andersons Inc., and Chris Crawford of The Scoular Company. Collectively, they shared their perspective on price outlook, bulk and container logistics, and supply.

Participants also got to hear from industry leaders such as: Thomas Hammer, president of the National Oilseed Processors Association, Dave Hightower of the Hightower Report, Ken Erikson of IHS Markit, John Coyle of Blue Water Shipping Company and Bill Rooney of Kuehne + Nagel Inc.

Additionally, four U.S. farmers had the chance to showcase their operations, sustainability practices and outlook for 2021. Josh Gackle, a soybean farmer from Kulm, North Dakota, and David Iverson, a soybean farmer from Astoria, South Dakota, provided on-the-farm insight and perspective to attendees.

Iverson, a fourth-generation farmer and director to the United Soybean Board, shared that U.S. soy farmers are businessmen and women who use sophisticated technology and know the importance of operating in global marketplace. Today, Iverson farms 1,500 acres, rotating between corn and soybeans.

“We take great care to ensure the best possible quality of soybeans for our customers,” Iverson said, adding that his grandfather was one of the first farmers in the area to grow soybeans in the 1940s. “We use technology such as GPS and yield monitors to understand what’s happening in the field and to minimize inputs and apply fertilizer in a more sustainable way.”

Gackle, who serves as a director to the American Soybean Association, focused his presentation on sustainability.

“Sustainability starts on the farm,” said Gackle, who shared the importance of using these practices to ensure the next generation coming onto the farm has every opportunity for success. “Through these practices, we’ve been able to do much more with much less.”

The 2020 crop year was very good for Gackle’s region, where most “dryland farm” meaning they rely on rain for crop moisture. He shared that he practices minimum tillage to conserve and hold the moisture in the ground so it can be used when the crop needs it.

Additionally, Gackle said on his farm they do soil sampling after the crop has been harvested to better understand the nutrients that are in the soil. He explained that this helps drive their decisions for what the soil and crop need to best perform for the next crop season. Gackle shared that he couples this practice with variable-rate technology on the planter and sprayer to maximize not only the input applied but also taking into consideration the soil and what it can produce.

Both Iverson and Gackle expressed their commitment to delivering a high-quality, reliable supply of U.S. Soy to customers.

It’s these kinds of interactions and assurances that are most valuable for international buyers. Based on a post-event survey, attendees booked about 1.3 million metric tons, or 80 million bushels, of U.S. agricultural products with an estimated futures value of about $460 million during this year’s virtual Ag Supply Chain Asia. Of those reported bookings, 13.8 million bushels were soybeans and 13.2 million bushels were soybean meal.

“The value of these meetings and programs are immeasurable,” Sutter said. “They allow us all to connect, learn from each other, and facilitate trade.

“Additionally, these events contribute to the shared belief that exports are vital to global economic development. We look forward to being able to enhance and strengthen our relationships in the years to come.”

Ag Supply Chain Asia was sponsored by the South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council, North Dakota Soybean Council, Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council; and under the auspices of the United Soybean Board, American Soybean Association as well as Foreign Agricultural Service – United States Department of Agriculture.