Foreign demand for premium, food-grade soybeans is increasing rapidly, especially in China and Southeast Asia, so the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association is hosting two workshops to highlight the new opportunities for Minnesota farmers.

Most soybeans are grown for livestock feed and oil, but other varieties are used for tofu, miso, soy milk, and other foods. China raises its own food-grade beans, but it is rapidly outstripping its production capabilities, said Keith Schrader, a farmer from Nerstrand and chair of Minnesota Soybean's market development team.

"We are also seeing increased domestic demand for these soybeans," he said.

Food-grade soybeans are a valuable crop that requires more management, including special harvest and storage techniques. Some of the demand comes from buyers seeking soybeans that have not been produced from genetically-engineered seeds.

Dan Lemke, Minnesota Soybean spokesman, said farmers who have considered growing food-grade soybeans might want to take another look at it, especially if they have smaller acreage.

The all-day workshop sessions are free and will be offered at South Central College in North Mankato on July 31 and at the Courtyard by Marriott in Moorhead on Aug. 19. Topics include markets, seed selection, production, crop insurance, contracts, certification and transportation.

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