Jim Miller isn’t only the chairman of the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) – he’s also a Nebraska soybean farmer. As the chairman of an organization that works to deliver U.S. soy solutions around the world, Miller often has the chance to speak with international buyers of U.S. soy. Here, he shares a few common themes from those conversations.
Q: What kind of questions do you get from international buyers of U.S. soy?
A: They ask about the quality and digestibility of our (U.S.) soybeans and a little bit about sustainability. They ask why I grow genetically-modified (GMO) soybeans, so I talk about how by using GMO soybeans I can use no-till and decrease my trips across the field, making me a more sustainable producer as well as increasing my soil health, building organic matter and having better water infiltration when we have rain.
Q: What would you want international buyers to know about Nebraska soybean farmers?
A: Nebraska farmers are family farmers. We hear a lot from our international customers about corporate farms. International buyers say that when driving across the state they see signs that say Monsanto and Pioneer and they think those are corporate farms, so I tell them that those are just there so that if I, as a producer, see a good-looking field that is using those seeds, I might investigate using them as well.
Q: What do you want international buyers to know about U.S. farmers?
A: 95 percent of the farms in the U.S. are family farms. Some of them are corporations, but they have established that corporation for tax and liability purposes – the vast majority of us are family farms.
Q: Why is it important for international buyers of U.S. soybeans to see U.S. farms firsthand?
A: Anytime we can get international customers out on the farms to do one-on-one visits with the farmers to get a better understanding of the farming practices we have, it’s a great opportunity for networking and building relationships.
Q: What are your hopes and expectations for the future?
A: I am confident that we’ll continue to build preference for U.S. soy and differentiate our product from our competitors around the world, and that we will continue to build relationships with these customers from around the world.