Overview of ISA's Trade Program and Why it Matters

By Jill Parrent | ISA Communications Coordinator

Selling soybeans to buyers is more than just a handshake. It is a relationship that builds over time with the mutual understanding of the demand of the buyer and the need of the grower. The Illinois Soybean Association is continually working to increase relationships with international buyers to sell more Illinois soybeans.

Fostering Relationships.

The trade and export space grows larger each day. The need for soybeans is continually growing, and as farmers, we must do our part to continue to foster those relationships. Businessmen can sell soybeans, but only farmers can sell deep-rooted relationships. Often, we are repeat customers to businesses where we connect and can see first-hand who is doing the work – it may be the relationships, not the product that draw us in. 

The same is true when it comes to soybean exports. “The more opportunities we can connect our buyers with farmers that produce the soybeans they are directly purchasing, the more opportunities they are to be repeat buyers time and time again,” states David Headley, Trade Team Coordinator for the Illinois Soybean Association.

Oftentimes these connections are built through in-person visits with Illinois soybean farmers. Buyers from across the world travel to an Illinois farm where they are able to see and experience different seasons of soybean growth. Buyers can touch the soybeans they will buy, walk the fields, often experience harvest, and interact with the farmers that grow them. Currently, relationships are developed through trade team virtual meetings where Illinois Soybean Board Directors directly converse with buyers across the globe, including a farm tour video.

More than Buyers.

To get our soybeans to the buyers, facilitating relationships with shipping and export companies in Illinois is required. Not only do buyers need a connection to who is growing their food, but also with those who are selling the grain, whether those sellers are loading on the terminal or exporting the product. Regardless of size, all companies are vital to selling soybeans. The shipping companies in Illinois need an understanding of why their work is so important, and how they can help make a difference in the buying and exporting of Illinois soybeans.

It Matters.

All farmers should realize the vitality of trade and exports. Why farmers should get involved with understanding trade and exports is simple. Headley emphasizes, “Our farmers have the desire to know who they are selling to so they can understand what they need to grow.” Soybean buyers are looking for sustainably grown products, and the best way for farmers to know what the demands are is to hear it right from the source.

At the end of the day, we are not going to increase exports without engaging with buyers and shipping and export companies. Farmers, take note – your voice is powerful, and your product is invaluable.