Essential Amino Acids (EAA) is a better measure of soybean value than crude protein.  That was the message Tom Sluneck Minnesota Soybean and Research and Promotion Council CEO brought to a hearing before the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington D.C recently. There is a long standing internal mandate pertaining to soybeans in Japan that has resulted in a non-tariff trade barrier.

Japanese soybean buyers normally but U.S. soybeans out of the Gulf of Mexico ports because of misleading and outdated technical measurements that say crude protein is the best quality measure for soybeans. Soybeans grown in the southern U. S. are a little higher in crude protein. So, Japanese buyers think they are better quality and value.

"In reality, crude protein measurements are just that: crude," Sluneck said. Soybeans grown in Minnesota and the Dakotas have a superior content of essential amino acids that help mongastric animals like pigs, chickens and aquaculture  produce more muscle mass and produce more meat and eggs. Another words the EAA measurement is a much more accurate way to determine the quality of soybeans.

Knowing the EAA values allows nutritionists to balance animal diets and eliminate the need for expensive amino acid supplements.   Japan relying on crude protein means the most efficient way for Japan to but U.S. Soybeans is not being utilized.

"America's Pacific Northwest ports offer a greater advantage for transportation costs and efficiencies due to billions of dollars of investments in infrastructures by the grain elevator system, rail companies, and soybean port transloading facilities," Sluneck said. I believe the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council has also invested dollars in upgrading the Pacific Northwest ports.

The U.S. and Japan are entering into negotiating a bilateral free trade agreement. Northern U.S. soybean farmers hope to include language in the agreement that would define soybeans or soybean meal in Japan not be required to possess a minimum crude protein content.