USSEC Hosts Chinese Crop Tour Team

By - Monday, September 19, 2016

USSEC hosted a crop tour team comprised of 20 Chinese guests, representing some of the largest buyers of U.S. Soy.

This annual trip aims to help these key buyers and decision makers for very large importers and crushers of U.S. Soy to understand the U.S. logistics system. Additionally, one of the team’s principal goals is to gather firsthand information on the current year soy production situation in terms of crop size and quality to get an advanced view of U.S. crop conditions ahead of the harvest. Gathering these facts helps these important guests to further strengthen their confidence in U.S. Soy and to make better purchasing decisions. These missions are increasingly important as consumers demand additional, varying, high quality products.

The entire group visited the New Orleans area on September 6, stopping at Zen-noh Grain in Convent, Louisiana and Blue Water Shipping in Metairie, Louisiana. They arrived in St. Louis on September 7, and split into two groups traveling to different parts of the U.S. to maximize their industry interaction/farm visits.

On September 8, Group A visited Bruns Farms in Corso, Missouri and the Bay Research Farm, where they viewed the lab and learned about its research capacity, discussing technology and breeding, before visiting the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council. They finished the day at Nathan Alpers’ farm and grain handling facilities in Prairie Home, Missouri.

Visitors to the Bruns Farm get a closer look at a soybean plant

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The wet weather did not hamper the group’s spirits at the Bruns Farm

That same day, Group B visited Illinois Soybean Association director Tim Seifert’s farm in Auburn, Illinois, and Doug Harford’s farm in Mazon, Illinois.

Group A next headed to Fordyce Farms in Bethany, Missouri on September 9. Richard Fordyce is the director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture and his wife, Renee, is the District One director for the Missouri Soybean Association. They then traveled to Tarkio, MO to meet with Brooks Hurst, current American Soybean Association director and Vice President of the Missouri Soybean Association board.

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Director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture Richard Fordyce talks to Chinese trade team visitors at his farm

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At the Fordyce farm

Group B visited the Illinois Soybean Association that day before traveling to Doug Schroeder Farms, Illinois Soybean Association District 11 director, in Bellflower, Illinois.

On September 10, Group A experienced the downtown farmers market in Des Moines, Iowa, before visiting Iowa Soybean Association director Tim Bardole’s farm in Rippey, Iowa.

Meanwhile, Group B met with the Indiana Soybean Alliance.

Group A next journeyed to United Soybean Board (USB) and Iowa Soybean Association director April Hemmes’ farms, Hampton, Iowa on September 11, following that visit with one to the farm of the Ziegler family farm, where they also enjoyed dinner at the host’s lake house.

USB director and Meal Target Area Coordinator Mike Beard of Frankfort, Indiana hosted Group B at his farm, before they traveled to Indiana Corn Growers Association director Herb Ringel’s farm in Wabash, Indiana and Indiana Soybean Alliance director Tom Griffith’s farm in Kendallville, Indiana, also on September 11.

On September 12, Group A had the opportunity to visit Minnesota Soybean Growers Association director Ray Hewitt’s farm in Le Sueur, Minnesota; the Central Farm Service in Delavan, Minnesota; and the Fairmont, Minnesota farm of American Soybean Association (ASA) director Lawrence Sukalski.

Mission participants enjoyed their time at John Motter's farm

Mission participants enjoyed their time at John Motter’s farm in Jenera, Ohio

That same day Group B visited Ohio’s Legacy Farmers Co-op before heading to USB Vice Chairman John Motter’s farm in Jenera, Ohio and ASA director Bret Davis’ place in Delaware, Ohio. At both farms, the group enjoyed presentations from DuPont Pioneer, Cargill, Interstate Commodities as well as local co-ops and farmer groups.

ASA director Bret Davis hosts a trade team at his farm in Delaware, Ohio (Photo courtesy of the Ohio Soybean Council)

ASA director Bret Davis hosts the trade team at his farm in Delaware, Ohio (Photo courtesy of the Ohio Soybean Council)

September 13 was a travel day, with both groups joining back together, before holding market outlook meetings on the 14th. The team headed to Kalama Export Terminal in Kalama, Washington on September 15, in a tour arranged by USSEC member Gavilon.

USSEC Stakeholder Relations Coordinator Eric Gibson escorted the group on several legs of the mission and remarked on their enthusiasm.

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“This was one of the most enthusiastic trade groups I’ve had the privilege of working with. Back home, in China, many of these folks work for competing companies, but I witnessed them working together in the fields and corresponding with one another over the U.S. Soy crop,” he said. “The rain, mud and muck didn’t keep our guests from getting out into the fields and interacting closely with our farmers who were gracious enough to volunteer their time during such a busy time of the year.”

USSEC Stakeholder Relations Manager Will McNair described the group’s enthusiasm in the field and their questioning of local farmers: “They really wanted to know how U.S. farmers were making their planting decisions and what current prices mean to their profitability and long-term farm sustainability.” He added, “They were really interested in the level of sophistication of the U.S. farmers. Although these were savvy buyers with a broad understanding of the U.S. ag sector, they were surprised to find that the U.S. farmers were equally savvy and knowledgeable about the trade and where their beans go.”