Strong bean prices on open market lead growers to sell stocks
By SEAN ELLIS
A plan to make an emergency sale of Idaho bean seed to Mexico has fallen through because that country's agriculture department has been unwilling to provide the financial assistance Mexican growers need to make purchases.
But Gem State dry bean farmers and dealers believe the contacts made during a special meeting March 29 to try to facilitate the sale will prove helpful in the future. Idaho growers already sell beans to Mexico on a regular basis and they vowed to continue and even enhance the state's outreach and field test efforts in that country because they believe it's a promising market.
That belief was buttressed late last week when the marketing department of the Mennonite community in the Mexican state of Chihuahua told Idaho officials they were anxious to buy about 300,000 to 400,000 pounds of Idaho bean seed.
Idaho Bean Commission Administrator Diana Caldwell said a commission-sponsored pinto bean test in 2011 made a very favorable impression on the Mennonite community.
During an Idaho trade mission to Mexico in December, Mexican growers and buyers told their Idaho counterparts they needed to quickly purchase hundreds of tons of bean seed because of a severe drought that devastated that country's bean crop last year.
The March 29 meeting in Boise was a direct result of that request.
However, Mexico's agriculture department, SAGARPA, has not come through on promises to provide those growers the financial assistance they need to make the purchases.
"I think SAGARPA isn't going to give financial assistance to growers or major seed buyers this season," IBC Chairman Lorell Skogsberg said May 14.
With open market prices for commercial beans above $40 per hundredweight, there likely wouldn't be much bean seed available at this point even if the agency changed its mind, Idaho dealers say.
Melmont Bean and Seed owner Brent Zeyer, who represented several Idaho companies during the negotiations in Boise, said all of the seed he had available during the meeting has now been sold to the commercial market.
"My seed's all gone," he said. "With commercial prices so high right now, it would be crazy for it not to be gone."
"The volume of stocks available for seed are certainly not what they were (on March 29)," said Don Tolmie, production manager for Treasure Valley Seed Co. "The vast majority of our carryover stocks are burned up, particularly seed."
Skogsberg said Idaho dealers made some good connections during the meeting and the bean commission, which has sponsored several field trials in the Mexican states of Sinaloa and Chihuahua since 2006, plans to increase that effort to include the states of Durango and Zacatecas.
"Our trial results ... have been very strong (and) we're going to increase our trialing efforts this next year," he said.