By Dan Gunderson, MPR News
Kidney beans are just one of several varieties of beans classified as dry edible beans. “When you take the North Dakota, Minnesota and southern Manitoba growing region, half of the North American dry bean crop is produced in that area,” says John Bartsch, a trader with Kelley Bean Company, who also grows beans on an eastern North Dakota farm. “And so if they have a good crop or a poor crop, it has an outsized impact on price.”
About 60 percent of kidney beans harvested are used in the United States and the rest are exported. “Domestically, they’re going down to Faribault, Minnesota for canning there and for foreign export. Most of them go to the E.U. or Central America,” says Perham, Minnesota farmer Mark Dombeck.
Lately, trade disputes have played a larger role in the direction of the industry. “Right now, our competition for exports is Canada and Argentina,” says Dombeck. “They don’t have a tariff, so we’re at a disadvantage,” The European Union has been a steady kidney bean customer for years, he adds. But last year, trade disputes disrupted the relationship when the E.U. put a retaliatory tariff on the beans after the U.S. had placed tariffs on steel and aluminum.