DES MOINES, Iowa, May 30, 2017 – When Terry Branstad, the new U.S. ambassador to China, gets settled into his Beijing headquarters, the former Iowa governor is going to see some familiar faces.
Iowa’s new governor, Kim Reynolds, announced plans to lead an all-Iowa agriculture trade mission to China from July 19-28. This is the sixth time Reynolds has been to China but the first time all of Iowa’s farm groups have come together for a trip to the Asian giant.
“There is no better time than now to market and pitch our products in China,” Reynolds said. “Our relationship with the country is strong, and their growing middle class means increasing purchasing power, and Iowa stands to gain significantly as a result.”
The goal of the mission is to build relationships, understanding and trust with the hope of opening new possibilities for Iowa’s agricultural products.
The contingent will include leaders of the Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Pork Producers, Iowa Farm Bureau, Iowa Egg Council, Midwest Dairy Association and Iowa State Dairy Association, Iowa Turkey Federation, Iowa Cattlemen, and the Iowa Beef Industry Council. The group will visit the cities of Shanghai, Shiyan and Beijing.
“Iowa ag products have a great reputation in China for their quality and reliability and as a result are well positioned for further growth. This trade mission is well-timed as there is increased awareness of Iowa in China following Ambassador Branstad’s confirmation, as well as, the recent agreement to allow U.S. beef back into China,” Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey said.
U.S. officials have been working to get beef back into China after a 13-year ban. For some of Iowa’s commodities, China is a developed market. For others like beef, it provides new opportunities to bring down barriers to products.
“The Chinese market has grown from the third or fourth beef market in the world to the second largest this year. It is around a $2.6 billion market from a beef trade standpoint so access is a very crucial step as we move forward,” said Matt Deppe, the CEO of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association.
“For Iowa’s farmers and agribusinesses to succeed and Iowa’s economy to thrive, trade and exports to other countries is vital,” said Craig Floss, CEO of Iowa Corn Growers Association.
China imported more than 50 percent of the exportable supply of U.S. distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS), or 6.3 million metric tons valued at nearly $1.6 billion in 2015. The country is by far the largest soybean importer, with purchases projected at 83 million metric tons, or a little more than 3 billion bushels, according to the U.S. Soybean Export Council.
“I’m looking forward to the trip,” said Kirk Leads, CEO of Iowa Soybean Association. The group plans to show the governor a fish farm they fund. “We will visit this farm where we have invested about $1 million and investments that have been matched by over $200 million by the Chinese government as they work to improve pound aquaculture across China.” This approach improves feed efficiency and water quality across China.
Total aquafeed use in China was around 36 million metric tons. The soy product use for aquafeed was estimated at around 8.8 million metric tons in 2015, which equals 408 million bushels of soybeans.
Reynolds became governor last Wednesday after Terry Branstad was sworn in as ambassador to China. The Iowa officials plan to visit Branstad in Beijing while on the mission.
The trip will be funded by participating organizations.
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