Iowa Soybean Association - Trade Mission to China | Travel Journal

Farmer to farmer, feeding the world

Kirk Leeds, Grant Kimberley, Randy Van Kooten and Delbert Christensen examine this Chinese farmer's soybean crop in the Jilin Province

On this final day of the trade mission in China, the group visited a grain warehouse in Cailjia, two hours outside Changchun. It was interesting to hear a bit more about how the agricultural system here works.

The farmers among us were surprised to hear most farmers here bring their crops to the elevator at 30 percent moisture. Because they are guaranteed a price by the government, and need the money, they hurry to bring in their crop and collect their payments.

In the Jilin province, the government encourages farmers to grow corn. We saw soybeans grown in strips between corn crops, along road ditches and even in the narrow dividers between rice fields. Soybeans are clearly a valuable crop, but corn is king in this area of China. In this region they call corn “jade rice.”

James Tsao shows the farmer and his family where Iowa is located.

A special part of this trip has been the opportunity to meet farmers. Today we met a farmer and his family from the Jilin province. Actually, most of the village came out to greet us. It was a wonderful experience to meet with the farmer, look at his crops, and see the pride he has in his farm.

To hear an interview with ISA President Delbert Christensen about the farmer to farmer link, click here:

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“This visit puts our jobs in a whole new light as we harvest our crops,” says ISA President Elect Randy Van Kooten. “It’s important where the crop is going and that we’re feeding families here and across the globe.” To hear an interview with Randy Van Kooten, click here:

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Meeting this little boy makes it easy to think about the U.S. and China working together to feed the world

To hear the insights of ISA’s Director of Market Development Grant Kimberley on the farm visit and the hospitality of the Chinese people, click here:

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ISA CEO Kirk Leeds outlined five challenges that we need to solve in order to meet demand and make sure the growing global population has enough to eat, now and in the future:

  • Continued increases in production
  • Solve quality issues and increase protein and oil
  • Continue improving infrastructure, like the expansion of Port of Gray’s Harbor in Washington
  • Market access, reducing trade barriers, and
  • Acceptance of biotech traits.

“It’s important that we view the expansion of trade in the American ag industry as vital,” says Cal Meyer, group vice president of AGP. “We have to strive to open markets and be competitive from the farm to the ag industry and meet customer demand.”

To hear Cal’s interview with Kirk Leeds, click here:

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To hear Kirk’s comments, click here:

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Now that we’re acclimated to our surroundings and the 13 hour time difference it’s time to go home. Our travels tomorrow will take the Iowa delegation to Des Moines via Changchun, Beijing, Vancouver and Minneapolis.

By all accounts, this trade mission has been a success. We’ve learned and listened, and talked about Iowa soybean production. And we gained a new appreciation for the vast potential of this market for Iowa-grown soybeans.

The women of the farm family asked to have their photo taken with me.

We’ve met new people. We’ve seen things we’ve never seen before. We’ve eaten different food. But yet, for all the different and new experiences we’ve had here, what strikes me most about traveling to China is how surprisingly similar we all are. We and our Chinese counterparts have a great deal to learn from one another, and we’ve appreciated the opportunity to experience the Chinese culture briefly during our time here.

To listen to Kirk Leeds’ interview with me on a bus to Changchun, click here:

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I’ll continue to post wrap-up information and additional photos on the blog upon my return home.

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