It has been known for quite some time that soybeans grown in Minnesota and North and South Dakota have a slightly lower protein content than beans grown in South America. In addition, beans grown farther south in the United States also have a higher protein content. Seth Naeve, a University of Minnesota Extension soybean agronomist, said they do not really understand why our soybeans are lower in protein. Our shorter growing season in the Upper Midwest is likely part of reason.

We crush the beans and feed the soybean meal to livestock because of the protein. China buys millions of tons of soybeans partly because it needs protein to feed livestock. Therefore buyers like China consider the protein content when buying beans. However another consideration is the actual quality or amino acid makeup of the soybean meal. It turns out that beans grown in the Upper Midwest are actually higher in limiting amino acids than South American beans, even thought the total percentage of protein is lower.

Naeve is part of a marketing group out of Minnesota and North and South Dakota that has come together to educate buyers in other countries about the higher quality protein from soybeans grown in the Upper Midwest. Naeve said the response has been positive but it takes about three visits to convince foreign buyers.

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