Andy Fabin, a soybean farmer from Pennsylvania, doesn’t just farm. He also manages a processing facility where soybeans are processed into meal and oil for end users.

Different metrics, different quality

Q&A with Andy Fabin, Farmer and Elevator Manager, Indiana, Pennsylvania
By Heather Manhardt

From seed to feed, Fabin is involved in the soy supply chain by planting soybeans and then selling meal to poultry and swine customers. We spoke with him to learn more about different measurement standards in the soybean industry and how those impact the definition of quality throughout the soy supply chain.

Q: How do you measure incoming loads of soybeans?

A: I look for good-quality beans and measure the test weight, moisture, foreign material, and protein and oil levels. To measure protein and oil levels, I use a near-infrared, or NIR, machine. Since I crush soybeans to make meal and oil, I pay attention to the protein and oil content of the soybeans we receive.

Q: You mentioned looking for good-quality beans. What do elevators consider when deciding if soybeans are high quality?

A: Elevators visually inspect for quality. They want to make sure the soybeans are not cracked, shriveled or rotten. Basically, for most elevators, if the soybeans are in good physical condition, they are considered good quality.

Q: What do processors consider when deciding if soybeans are high quality?

A: Processors on the other hand are looking for high protein content and a consistent supply of soy. They want to count on quality and volume. Right now, they’ll take the soybeans they can get and blend them to reach the right protein levels for their customers.

Q: Would there be a benefit to elevators having information about the protein and oil levels of the soybeans they collect?

A: Absolutely. Elevators could use that information for marketing. If the soybeans are going for export or to a processor, the elevator could tell those customers their soy’s protein levels on average, and explain the benefits to those customers. An example would be that higher-protein soybeans could help boost the overall protein levels in their meal. If they knew they had higher-protein soybeans, the information would give the elevators more leverage.

Q: How would that impact the relationship between the elevator and processor?

A: It would make transactions more transparent between the elevator and processor. More transparency would be a good thing because both parties would know the true value of what they are buying and selling.

Q: Why do you think there is a difference between what elevators consider quality and what processors consider quality?

A: The processor wants to make the highest-quality product, and elevators are trying to move product without getting discounts. They have different end goals.

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