Member Profile: Brushvale Seed
Posted on October 21, 2022
Exemplary quality and strategic genetics have kept Brushvale Seed exporting for more than 35 years. It is now a state-of-the-art processing facility focusing on quality, identity-preserved, food-grade soybeans with global impact. Several generations ago, the Miller family started farming near Wahpeton, ND, and with difficulties plaguing the farming industry in the 1980s, they considered a different approach to selling their crops. After a research trip to California, the Millers were on a new path to focus on high-quality seeds for export.
The company more recently became engrossed in seed genetics, including a breeding program dedicated to developing non-GMO soybean varieties suited for production and processing through Brushvale's identity-preserved system. . Initially, when working with Japanese buyers, they quickly learned quality was of the utmost importance. Brushvale was initially complimented more on the quality of lumber used to create a bulkhead in the containers to ship the soy products rather than the beans themselves. At that point, Brushvale knew higher quality beans would be crucial to their success. With this attention to detail, a high-quality standard would make their future products stand above others
Brushvale Seed continues to take extraordinary measures to preserve and provide high-quality food-grade soybeans for natto, soymilk, tofu, and miso. We spoke with Tessa (Miller) Mohs, a 4th generation Miller who works closely with the seed genetics for many of the Brushvale offerings. She explains that "our soybean varieties are specifically bred for superior food quality and agronomic traits through traditional plant breeding methods." Each soybean variety from Brushvale is evaluated to ensure top yields and disease resistance to growers. Beyond that, their proprietary seeds and breeding program closely align with soy food manufacturers' needs to enhance their desired value-added traits. "By supplying our growers with proprietary seed and supporting them throughout production, Brushvale can sustain the overall value and deliver a high-quality product to our customers," says Mohs. Her passion is research and development, creating new varieties, and seeing them come full circle. In addition, Mohs loves the hands-on approach of day-to-day operations, from genetics and selection to seeing the seeds go into the ground all the way through harvest, testing, and until the containers leave our facility. "It's all quite amazing," Mohs says, "but it does come with a lot of challenges, time, investment, and hard work." From breeding to growing and getting the product to processors, there are many conditions outside their control, such as weather and logistics, but maintaining the superior quality remains of the utmost importance explains Mohs.
Increasingly, manufacturers and customers value the food chain and knowing exactly where and how their food is grown. With an Identity Preserved (IP) process, strict separation and documentation is required and ensures end-users know the product they receive has specific seed quality and nutritional characteristics. This is specifically important for some international markets with different regulations for genetically engineered foods or food manufacturers that want to maintain labeling standards such as "non-GMO." Most companies require certain product specifications and insist on an IP process to ensure quality and consistency.
Brushvale maintains IP documentation on every step of the process for traceability, which requires a lot of time and management, but is well worth it. Their production and trials run throughout MN, SD, and ND, with varieties specifically bred for the grower's success and end users' needs. Bruhvales' research and development program focuses on different attributes based on manufacturers' needs, such as increased protein, sugars, sucrose, and healthy oils. With several of these increased qualities, their soybeans have become more attractive to their longstanding customers both domestically and overseas.
Brushvale continues to innovate according to the needs and wants of its customers, including nutritional needs, improved shelf life, and elevated protein levels. New seed varieties can take up to ten years to develop, so patience is key in this business, which works well for them as exporting can often be a long process with hopefully satisfying results. It can also be a challenge for growers to take on new seeds or manufacturers to try new varieties, but all of this can be worth it when the end user holds the final products with such a high value. "It's incredibly rewarding to see your varieties make it into food," adds Mohs.
With a bright future ahead, Brushvale Seed is going to continue its holistic approach to seeds and grain exports. From breeding programs, growers, and food manufacturers to consumers, their products will continue to shine as a piece of ND is spread globally.