INDIANAPOLIS, (July 20, 2017) — China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Foodstuffs, Native Products and Animal By-products (CFNA) and a select group of local agriculture leaders met Wednesday, July 12, at the downtown Westin Hotel to discuss trade, production and the future of the soybean industry, as well meet Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and Indiana soybean farmers.
Speakers included Edward Ebert, Senior Director of Grain Production and Utilization, Indiana Soybean Alliance, addressing U.S. market outlooks and Wang Yunchao, General Manager, COFCO Oils and Fats Western Specialization Platform, provided an informative update on China’s grain and oils market.
Ted McKinney, Director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, opened the session with an introduction to Indiana soybean production and highlighted the state’s industry strengths.
“In Indiana, we are the crossroads of America. That means we remain focused on the viability our three [soon to be four] international ports, a terrific rail system, and a highway and interstate system that is good and getting better,” McKinney said. “While many of our colleagues in other states are in great debt, we are $2 billion to the positive and have an outstanding business environment.”
As the morning continued, the group learned about the supply and demand of soybean crops between the U.S. and China from Ebert, who pointed out that despite current weather patterns Indiana continues to produce an abundant supply of soybeans, which will help meet growing demand.
“In terms of soybean demand, China will be consuming about 80 to 85 percent of the growth,” Ebert said, reiterating the importance of higher yields to meet trade demands.
Following the morning sessions, the group traveled across the street to the Indiana Statehouse where they met with Gov. Eric Holcomb. Gov. Holcomb echoed the morning’s greetings by welcoming the major soybean buyers from China to the Hoosier state declaring, “Indiana soybeans bring Indiana to the world and the world to Indiana.”
The CFNA and Indiana Soybean Alliance representatives then departed to Brownsburg, Ind., to hear Mike Starkey, owner of Starkey Farms, present his sustainable farming practices.
Starkey incorporates a no-till method in his farming, which increases soil health, contributes to cleaner water and is overall better for the growth of soybean crops. In addition to his no-till practice, Starkey’s cover crop system also contributes to soil health, higher quality crops, decreased production costs and is significantly more environmentally friendly than conventional growing methods.
“The Environmental Protection Agency really likes this type of farming,” Starkey says. “It’s what they encourage us to do.”
The group also visited Andy Tauer’s soybean and cattle farm in Monrovia, Ind., where they toured the farm and learned more about Tauer’s sustainable farming practices.
According to Ebert, international visits like this reinforce the importance of the soybean checkoff dollars and maintaining healthy, strong relationships with international buyers.
“We export over 30 million metric tons of soy to China today, so we see these gatherings as an opportunity to show we’re farming in a sustainable manner, to establish a connection with the customer and show how we’re doing things right in Indiana,” Ebert said.
Indiana soybean farmer David Rodibaugh believes that without the soybean checkoff, meetings of this caliber couldn’t happen.
“The real mission of the soybean checkoff is to produce a product, to identify a market and satisfy that market,” Rodibaugh said. “Whether it’s visiting their country or hosting them here, we need to understand the market and our customers and the checkoff allows us to do this.”
About the Indiana Soybean Alliance: The Indiana Soybean Alliance works to enhance the viability of Indiana soybean farmers through the effective and efficient investment of soybean checkoff funds and the development of sound policies that protect and promote the interest of Indiana soybean farmers. ISA is led by an elected-farmer board that directs investments of the soybean checkoff funds on behalf of more than 28,000 Indiana soybean farmers and promotes policies on behalf of ISA’s dues-paying members. For more information, visit IndianaSoybean.com.
This communication was funded with Indiana soybean checkoff dollars.