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Chinese reporters hear direct from Iowa farmers about impact of trade war

Article cover photo
Brock Hansen and a group of Chinese journalists pause for a photo at Hansen’s farm last week. The journalists represent major media outlets across China and were here to visit with agriculture representatives from the Iowa Soybean Association and other commodity groups. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

By Aaron Putze, APR

A delegation of eight senior reporters representing print, digital and broadcast media operating in China visited Iowa last week to learn firsthand how soybean farmers and the industry are coping with the ongoing trade dispute between their home country and the U.S. 

In addition to a two-hour discussion with Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) staff Nov. 16, participants in the 2018 U.S. Study Tour for Chinese Journalists sponsored by the East-West Center toured the farm of ISA farmer members Brock and Robin Hansen Nov. 17. 

The dialogue was robust but respectful. Facts and opinions were openly shared. Weighty topics – like the impact of the tariffs on U.S. farmers and Chinese consumers — were addressed with a serious tone and interaction. At other times, there was laughter and shared agreement about the importance of restoring trust and diplomacy between the two countries. 

“I think we need more such kind of dialogue, it really helps both of us to understand each other, and we may figure out a solution in the end,” said Xiaojing Xing, senior news reporter for the Global Times. 

“The detailed discussion also helps me understand the real agricultural situation and the ongoing subsidy policy in Iowa,” she added. “And the farmers’ perspectives toward trade friction are also important to me, otherwise I can’t write objectively.” 

Media outlets represented by the delegation included FactWire News Agency (Hong Kong), Red Star News and Economic Daily (Chengdu), South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), Global Times – Chinese Edition (Beijing) and Beijing Youth Daily. 

“It’s thrilling to know that the Iowa Soybean Association is courageously doing a lot of work to try to make changes of the US-China trade dispute,” said Xiao Yang, Beijing Youth Daily senior journalist.

In addition to its stop in Iowa, the delegation visited Washington, D.C. and Seattle. Topics explored included the China-U.S. relationship with a focus on trade, security, media and cultural issues.

Brock Hansen answers questions from Chinese journalists at his home in Baxter. Hansen provided the group with a tour of his farm and answered questions about his operation and the tariff situation. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

But it was a visit to the Hansen farm that made the biggest impression, especially for the farm family that welcomed them. 

“I don’t think we thought much about the opportunity when we were first invited to host the reporters to our farm,” Brock admitted. “But in retrospect, touring the farm and discussing trade around the kitchen table with the group was an amazing experience. 

“We talked for nearly two hours but probably could have talked for another two.” 

Brock said he and Robin thought quite a bit about the information they wanted to share with the reporters before the group arrived. But what they didn’t anticipate was the impression the meeting would have on them and their children: Veronica, 19; Morgan, 12; Ayden, 8 and Seth, 5. 

“How often does one get a chance like this?” Hansen said. “Our kids were very impressed, or taken aback I should say, of why people halfway around the world want to know about us and what we do.”

Just two days after hosting the reporters, Brock said the children took the small gifts they received from the Chinese group and photos of them and their guests to Baxter Community School. They were used for show-and-tell and mini civics lessons with teachers and fellow students. 

“Robin and I are thankful for our connection with ISA and the work it does to build and maintain relationships with those who need and buy what we grow,” Brock added. “Now, we look forward to reading what they report!” 

The East-West Center, based in Honolulu, Hawaii, touts itself as a promoter of better relations and understanding among the people and nations of the United States, Asia, and the Pacific through cooperative study, research, and dialogue. It was established by the U.S. Congress in 1960.

Contact Aaron Putze at

For media inquiries, please contact Katie James, ISA Public Relations Manager at or Aaron Putze, ISA Communications Director at

For permission to republish articles or to request high-res photos contact Aaron Putze at Iowa Soybean Association | 1255 SW Prairie Trail Pkwy | Ankeny | IA | 50023 | US

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