Behind the Scenes at the SoyPlus Plant & How I Merchandise Your Beans

Soybean Field Sunshine
Steven Johnson 4x6 2017
Guest Essay by Steven Johnson, SoyPlus Merchandiser

One of the greatest benefits of a farmer-owned cooperative is the ability to aggregate farmers’ grain to allow greater access to more profitable markets. For the last decade, I have worked with our team of grain marketing advisors to sell aggregated Iowa soybeans into one market, specifically, that offers consistently higher value to our farmers: SoyPlus.

All the soybeans brought into our Ralston, Iowa location get processed into SoyPlus, the cooperative’s own branded bypass protein soybean meal. 

Soyplus Plant Ralston Ia  Drone 2017
SoyPlus processing facility in Ralston, IA

The SoyPlus manufacturing process also yields soybean oil that is sold mostly into the biodiesel industry. As the SoyPlus merchandising manager for Landus Cooperative, I purchase the soybeans sourced locally by our grain marketing team and simultaneously build purchase contracts with soybean meal and oil end-users. My role allows me a unique daily glimpse of the benefits of our cooperative working directly with both ends of the soybean supply chain. Our direct access to soybean meal and oil markets offers important value-boosting opportunities to our local soybean growers, and to take advantage of those opportunities, I rely on the futures markets.

Futures markets allow our team to not just mitigate risk on behalf of our members, but to also offer convenience and speed to farmers and customers at both ends of our supply chain. Hedging allows us to buy incoming soybeans before we have a home for them, or to sell future tons of SoyPlus before the soybeans are on site. This is criticalto offer supply chain reliability in an industry where the rate of crop supply will never align with the rate of consumer demand on any given day. Each day I focus on how I can bridge the gap between what our local farmers are selling on a given day, and what our SoyPlus customers and oil end-users want to buy on any given day.

The futures market is the tool I use to bridge that gap. The beauty of a cooperative is that it allows our team to offer the farmer a firm price whenever on the farmer’s timeline, and their offer is not contingent on when our SoyPlus end users are ready to purchase feed.

As the merchandiser for SoyPlus, it’s my privilege to utilize the tools available to me to continue working to add value to local soybean growers while also offering our SoyPlus end-users speed, convenience, and quality locally-grown products. As I work each day to create balance between the needs of soybean sellers and SoyPlus I am reminded of the incredible benefit our members receive from our cooperative having its own soy crush facility as it provides us access to a market in our backyard.

Soybean destination
Destination for Your Soybeans

We aren’t just reselling commodity beans to someone else who will capture the value of the meal and oil. We are instead adding value to local farmers’ soybeans right here in Ralston. Landus Cooperative has brought the soybean meal and soybean oil market right into your backyard, keeping the value at home where it better benefits our local communities.