China to Build Model of U.S. Farm

By - Monday, November 28, 2016

China is set to build a model of a U.S. farm in Hebei Province starting next year.

The farm will be fashioned after Rick and Martha Kimberley’s farm in Maxwell, Iowa, which was visited by Chinese president Xi Jinping in 2012. Then China’s vice president, he met with friends he made in Iowa in 1985 while he was a Hebei Province party official and director of the Feed Association of Shijiazhuang Prefecture.

A memorandum describing the farm was signed during Iowa governor Terry Branstad’s mission to China.  Governor Branstad’s eight-day trip to China and Japan will wrap up on December 2 and is focused on increasing agricultural exports to the two countries. The group also included representatives of Iowa’s Sister States program, which has longstanding ties to Hebei Province.

The Kimberley family operates a typical Midwestern farm with a house, grain bins, and machine sheds, said Grant Kimberley, the couple’s son, who is director of market development for the Iowa Soybean Association and also executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board.

“When the Chinese president came to visit, he said that using technology – everything from grid sampling your soils to using GPS, and biotechnology seeds – will be important for China’s future. He wants to help Chinese farms modernize, in their own way, by using our farm as an example,” Mr. Kimberley explained.

Initial discussions with Chinese officials have included the concept of making the demonstration farm in Hebei Province virtually identical to the Kimberley farmstead, but many details still need to be worked out.

Hebei Province is located in northern China, and the Great Wall of China passes through it.

The Kimberley farm in Iowa is about 4,000 acres, included rented land. The working demonstration farm in China will be smaller, about 300 to 500 acres, and may also have some hogs, cattle, and chickens, along with corn, soybeans, wheat and oil seed crops, and garden vegetables.

Grant Kimberley, a sixth-generation family farmer, helps his parents operate their Iowa farm, and is a member of the Iowa Sister States Board. He has visited China about 10 times to advocate trade between the U.S. and China. Soybeans are China’s top import crop and the country imports about a third of the world’s soybeans.

China faces a challenge feeding its people because although it boasts 21 percent of the world’s population, it only contains 9 percent of the world’s farmland, according to the Ministry of Agriculture of the People’s Republic of China. Currently, China says it ranks first in the world in production of cereals, cotton, fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry, eggs and fishery products. The ministry says the country has dramatically reduced its population of rural poor since 1978 by reforming policies and opening its agriculture to the outside world, including agricultural exchanges and cooperation with more than 140 countries.