MANKATO, MINNESOTA, U.S. — The Midwest Shippers Association (MSA) and the Northern Food Grade Soybean Association (NFGSA) on Feb. 25 announced they have consolidated to form the Specialty Soya and Grains Alliance (SSGA), effective immediately.

“Selling ag commodities globally continues to be increasingly more difficult,” said Tom Slunecka, chief executive officer for Ag Management Solutions (AMS), which will handle management of the SSGA. “It’s important to have a strong, focused organization that has the resources necessary to compete with other global entities. The consolidation of NFGSA and MSA will position SSGA as the market leader in the global food industry.”

According to the associations, the SSGA will represent producers, processors, shippers and industry members of identity-preserved (IP) soybeans and specialty grains. The association’s board will be comprised of directors from the two former boards; its members include specialty grains and IP soybean producers, processors, genetic/seed providers, export traders, international export companies and qualified state soybean boards (QSSBs).

“One of the most vital pieces of selling specialty soya and grains is to have a strong and flexible transportation system,” said Andy Bensen, a SSGA board member and Wisconsin farmer who formerly was chairman of the MSA. “We’re excited for our SSGA members coast-to-coast. This consolidation will allow us to provide the production, processing and shipping resources our members need while maximizing the efficiencies of our two boards.”

The SSGA said it received a $1.5 million Agricultural Trade Promotion grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to begin operations. The grant is part of the larger Trade Mitigation Program, which was created to help farmers affected by the trade war with China.

“Aided by the grant from USDA, SSGA will begin the process of creating a new electronic marketplace that will communicate to buyers around the globe in ways that have never been done before,” Slunecka said.