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‘See For Yourself’ tour follows the soybean from pod to port

‘See For Yourself’ tour follows the soybean from pod to port

In 2019, over 60 percent of all U.S. soybeans were exported to foreign end-users.  As the global demand for protein continues to increase, soybean exports are expected to grow.

The Pacific Northwest (PNW) region is key to soybean exports. According to the Nebraska Soybean Board, in the 2018-19 marketing year, nearly a quarter of all U.S. soybean exports traveled through the region.

The board has taken a group of Nebraska soybean growers on a tour of the PWN to show them how their products are used and exported.

Farmers selected to take part in the program are attend checkoff-sponsored activities to gain a better understanding of how their checkoff dollars are being invested to build demand domestically and internationally.

Day 1:

The first day of tours began at BNSF Railway. BNSF is one of the leading freight companies in North America, with a rail network of 32,500 route miles across 28 states and three Canadian provinces.

In 2019, BNSF moved about the same industrial products railcars as the entire population of Nebraska.

Following the presentation with BNSF, the group toured the SSA Marine – Terminal 18. The terminal is the largest container facility in the PNW, sitting on 196 acres.

Cargo ships are loaded and unloaded at the terminal, which uses 4 vessel berths.

The final stop of the first day was at the Pike Place Market. The historic market overlooks Elliott Bay in Seattle. With more than 10 million visitors annually, Pike Place Market is Seattle’s most popular tourist destination.

A local vendor said the traffic has been steady, even as the state of Washington deals with an outbreak of the coronavirus.


Day 2

The second day of tours began close to the ocean, as the group stayed in Ocean Shores, WA.

The first stop of the day was at the Port of Grays Harbor, which is a deep-water port important to international shipping.

At the Port, the group heard from Gary Nelson, who serves as the executive director.

Nelson explained that the Port serves 80-110 vessels each year.

At this stop, the Nebraska soybean farmers heard a presentation from Sam Pratt, who is a grain merchandiser with AGP in Hastings, Nebraska.


The group also learned about biodiesel on this stop. Aaron Leatherman is the plant manager for REG Biorefinery.  The facility, which began operations in 2007, has a capacity of 100 million galls of biodiesel per year.


Ag Processing Inc. (AGP) ships soybean meal from the plant in Hastings, Nebraska to Grays Harbor to be loaded onto bulk vessels.

Plant Supervisor Brad Muelken describes the process of loading ships with soybean meal.


TEMCO, LLC is a 50/50 join venture between Cargill and CHS that buys, sells, stores and handles grain for export from the Pacific Northwest. The main products handled are corn and soybeans, arriving via rail from Minnesota, Nebraska, the Dakotas and Canada.

Plant Manager Market Jensen shares an overview in this audio report.


Wrapping Up: 

Jason Penke, a farmer from Craig and Nebraska Soybean Board member, gives us a recap of the 2020 See For Yourself Tour in the Pacific Northwest

Interested in attending a future See For Yourself tour? Teri Zimmerman of the Nebraska Soybean Board shares how you can apply!


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