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St. James Plaindealer - St. James, MN
  • Local farmer couple travels to China

  • While on the trip, participants learned about the challenges facing Chinese agriculture, the import-export outlook and were able to see firsthand how their soybean checkoff dollars are being invested.
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  •     Minnesota soybean farmers learn firsthand about Chinese agriculture when they travel to China.
        About one quarter of all U.S. soybeans are exported to China, making them the single largest soybean export customer.
        Some Minnesota farmers now have a broader understanding of the market’s magnitude and the work that has gone into cultivating it. A group of 27 farmers recently traveled there with the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council’s (MSR&PC) See For Yourself trip.
        Harold and Jane Wolle from rural St. James were part of the China trip.
        While on the trip, participants learned about the challenges facing Chinese agriculture, the import-export outlook and were able to see firsthand how their soybean checkoff dollars are being invested.
        During the trip, farmers toured feed mills, soy food processing plants, food markets and aquaculture farms. Minnesota farmers had the opportunity to hear from their international representatives at the United States Meat Export Federation (USMEF), the U.S. Embassy in China, the United States Soybean Export Council (USSEC) and U.S. exporters.
        “The trip to China exceeded my expectations. It was a wonderful, educational experience, and I feel confident and comfortable in how the soybeans we grow here are being promoted abroad,” said Harold Wolle.
        This is the eighth year of the See For Yourself program, and it has helped foster relationships with international customers. The U.S.-China soy industry relationship is collaborative and trips like this help to build a stronger relationship with Chinese customers.
        The economic landscape in China is rapidly changing with a growing middle class that is gradually moving from rural areas to cities and demanding a diet higher in meat protein. Minnesota soybean farmers can help meet this growing demand.
        “This increasing demand for protein drives the demand for northern U.S. soybeans. Chinese market opportunities continue to expand at an incredible pace,” stated Tom Slunecka, Minnesota Soybean Executive Director and participant on the See For Yourself China trip. “Without the investment of checkoff funds, access to the ever growing Chinese market would be lost to South American beans.”
        The agriculture industry in China is very strong, contributing 10 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) and 35 percent of the labor force.
        Over half of Minnesota’s soybean production is exported to feed people and livestock around the world. China is the largest customer for U.S. soybeans with purchases exceeding $10.5 billion in 2011.
        As demand for crops continues to grow globally, farmers are meeting the challenge through the use of technology and the development of international business relationships.
    Page 2 of 2 -     The international marketing of soybeans and meats is a priority for the soybean checkoff that MSR&PC administers on behalf of Minnesota soybean farmers. The soybean checkoff is an investment soybean farmers make in order to increase yields, improve quality and expand markets for soybeans in the U.S. and around the world.
        The See For Yourself trip, organized by MSR&PC, provided an opportunity for Minnesota farmers to see firsthand how their soybean checkoff is being used to add value to their soybeans in the international market.
        The Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council oversees the investment of soybean checkoff dollars on behalf of approximately 25,000 farmers in Minnesota. The council is governed by the rules of a federally mandated checkoff program that requires all soybean producers pay a fee on the soybeans they sell. This money is used to promote, educate and develop market opportunities for soybeans.
        To learn more about MSR&PC or to meet a farmer in your area visit www.TheREALStoryMN.com.
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