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Iowa soybean leaders eager to make business pitch this week to Chinese buyers, processors

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This week Iowa Soybean Association leaders are traveling to China for a trade mission to promote soybeans. The delegation is affirming the importance of maintaining strong agricultural trade relations between the countries.

By Aaron Putze, APR

Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) President Lindsay Greiner has logged thousands of travel miles already this year advocating for fellow soybean farmers.

But before heading to the field for planting season and the work he enjoys most, the soybean, corn and pig farmer from Keota has one more message to deliver – this one to the people of China.

“When we sit down with the soybean buyers and processors, I’m going to tell them that we want to get back to doing business,” Greiner said Sunday as he prepared to depart Los Angeles International Airport for the last leg of a day-and-a-half journey to the country of 1.4 billion people.

“And I’m hoping to hear that they still like us and want to get a trade deal done just as bad as we do.”

Greiner, joined by ISA Vice President Tim Bardole of Perry and Grant Kimberley, ISA market development director, will cover considerable ground while in China.

The one-week trade mission will begin with a conversation with Iowa’s former governor and U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad in Beijing followed by discussions with COFCO, China’s largest supplier of ag and food products.

The team will also call on soybean processors Herun Group and Shandong Bohi; the commodity traders of Dongling Grain & Oil Co. and Guangdong Wen, China’s leading feed producer. Discussions are also scheduled with representatives of Shenzhen Tong Shun Logistics Co., a private joint-stock enterprise specializing in the distribution of soybean meal, corn and fish meal and oil.

For Bardole, the conversations – which will also zero in on the severity of African Swine Fever’s impact on China’s pig numbers – are timely as the trade war between the two countries approaches its one-year anniversary.

“This isn’t a battle between soybean farmers in the United States and the buyers in China,” he said. “It’s a high-level political battle. Unfortunately, those taking the brunt of it are the people wanting to sell and buy soybeans.

“It’s not the farmers and buyers who are having the disagreement,” Bardole added. “We have soybeans and we’re really good at producing them. They need soybeans and benefit when they can source them from multiple countries. Competition is a good thing, but right now U.S. farmers are on the sidelines. That’s not good for either country.”

The trade mission will be a quick one, with the delegation visiting three cities – Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou – in just four days.

That’s more than enough time,  Greiner said, to deliver a message similar to one he and other soybean leaders made last week while discussing policy with U.S. ag officials in Washington, D.C.

“No one disputes the need to get tough with China on trade issues, but there’s also no disputing the tremendous hardship it’s having on soybean farmers,” he said.. “I’m getting ready to grow a new crop of soybeans at well below the cost of production. 

“We need to stay in the ear of the administration and let them know this can’t continue indefinitely.”

Greiner and Bardole said cash prices for soybeans in their neighborhoods range from $8.10-$8.30.

“The soybeans I intend to plant are penciling out at about $100-per-acre loss,” said Bardole who, like Greiner, also raises pigs. “You can’t make that pencil out for very long.”

The urgency is shared by Greiner.

“When commodity prices hit the skids, you only have two choices,” he said. “Borrow more or sell something. Those are lousy options so let’s get a deal done with China and so we can get back to doing business that benefits the people of both countries.”

For media inquiries, please contact Katie Johnson, ISA Public Relations Manager at kjohnson@iasoybeans.com or Aaron Putze, ISA Communications Director at aputze@iasoybeans.com

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

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