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Indiana farmers make trip to Indonesia to talk soybeans
Ohio Correspondent

JAKARTA, Indonesia.  — First the good news — Indiana farmers produce roughly 335 million bushels of soybeans.
 Now the great news – The Indiana Soybean Alliance (ISA) is working with buyers in Indonesia to direct-export Indiana-grown soybeans by container.
 “Indonesia has been a focus of ours for several years now,” said Ed Ebert, Senior Director of Market Development with ISA. “The importance of this can’t be understated in terms of the amount of soybeans that are exported out of the United States.”
 A delegation of 10 made a trip to Indonesia to discuss soybean opportunities that would benefit Indonesia and Indiana soybean growers.
 “During this trip we tried to bring experts and participants from both the farm gate level all the way to the ports of Indonesia,” Ebert said. “There’s roughly 2.4 to 2.5 million metric tons of soybeans shipped out of the U.S. per year. In Indiana terms, that’s about one-fourth of our state’s production specifically to the tempeh and tofu business every year.”
 Indonesia is the fourth most populated country in the world and in the last 30 years is the second fastest growing economy in the world, second only to India.
 Nick Stewart, owner and partner of S&G Seeds in Greensburg, Ind., calls this soybean venture a win-win for both parties.
 ”For the amount of soybeans they import into their country, Indiana and the U.S. are well-positioned to have a value-added soy-based product, not only to help our own farmers to but help the people here in Indonesia,” Stewart said.
 Andrew Sherman, International Trade Director for the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, looks forward to working with those in Indonesia.
  “On this trip we’re trying to better understand the specific product requirement that these (soy and tempeh buyers) are looking to get out of their products,” Sherman said. “As we identify those opportunities and needs, we need to bring that back home to our agribusinesses and our farmers, and communicate what’s needed. From there we can see if we can be collaborative and problem solving as we look to supply the fourth most populated country in the world.”
 Ebert, Stewart and Sherman were among a 10-person delegation to Indonesia last week. Others in Indonesia last week included Jim Douglas, (farmer from Flat Rock, Indiana and a United Soybean Board Director), Josh Marsh (Mayor of the City of Greensburg), Grant Fausset (District Sales Manager with Pence Group), Bryan Robbins (Director of Economic Development of Greensburg and Decatur County), Adam Gerdes (Assistant General Manager at Consolidated Grain and Barge in Mt. Vernon, Indiana), Jennifer Rachau (Chief of Staff, Ports of Indiana) and Mayasari Effendi (Indonesian native ISA consultant and Greensburg restaurant owner).
There are 17,000 island in Indonesia, with Jakarta being the main business hub. The delegation visited two of those islands. The delegation also met with FKS Group, a Southeast Asian holding company which focuses on food, infrastructure and property across that region.
The ISA and the Indiana Corn Growers Association (ICGA) seek to expand the sales of specialty agricultural products exported in containers from Indiana to global markets through the Regional Agricultural Promotion Program (RAPP). In this program, USDA is providing $2.3 billion to help American producers maintain and develop markets for their commodities and use U.S. commodities to bolster international food aid. USDA allocated $1.3 billion to RAPP and support specialty crop industries to diversify export markets.
 According to Ebert, RAPP is crucial to market development.
 “More money to get over here and tell the story about the quality, sustainability and reliability of supply that the U.S. provides,” Ebert said. “I think it is going to be helpful for all U.S. farmers, along with Indiana farmers.”
 “People over here eat soybean meals three times a day,” Jim Douglas said. “It’s their main staple. The soybean industry is very important to them. They don’t raise many soybeans here so they rely on imports. The majority of their demand for soybeans is driven by tempeh and tofu, both of which are food woven deeply into the Indonesian culture.”
 Douglas adds that high humidity in the fourth most populated country on the globe makes it difficult to store a large supply of soybeans for extended periods because of spoilage risk.
 To get around the storage issue, the ISA suggests exporting soybeans in containers directly to Indonesian buyers. Douglas said the amount purchased would be specific to the needs of each customer, instead of storing the soybeans in large volumes for the masses.
 The ICGA was also represented in the delegation to gain business for Indiana-grown specialty corn and co-products like ethanol and distillers’ grain.
According to ISA, the economic impact of Indiana’s agricultural export market includes:
 •         Every dollar invested in export market development programs returns $24 in export revenue.
•         Indiana is the seventh-largest agricultural exporter in the nation, exporting $7.4 billion in 2022.
•         The market value of beef and pork exports fed by Indiana-produced corn added $241.21 million in 2022.
•         Indiana corn had $1.3 billion and soybean had $2.6 billion in agricultural exports in 2021.
 ISA and ICGA have also identified demand for specialty products in Columbia, Thailand and Japan.
 The market potential of shipping to these regions could be up to 11,600 containers of $165 million in product value between soybean and corn commodities and co-products annually. In Indonesia alone, the soybean export value is estimated at $110 million and the corn starch export value is estimated at $12.3 million.