WEST POINT, Ind. (AP) -- The international soybean exchange was on the agenda as a group of Chinese bean buyers hit three Indiana grain farms over the weekend.
Their final stop on Sunday: Gary Lamie's 900-acre farm in southwestern Tippecanoe County that is split in half for soybean and corn production. During their early morning visit, the group had the chance to learn how Lamie grew and maintained his crop while getting an early peek at the next batch of soybeans coming out of Indiana.
"They're part of the United States Soybean Export Council, and they're just here to learn what we do in the fields and how we do things here," said Cathy Arthur, project manager for the Indiana Soybean Alliance. "Plus, they're asking a lot about exports. They want to know the safety and quality of the soybeans this year."
The delegation's trip to Lamie's farm was part of a weeklong tour that began in New Orleans for a trading summit, and will eventually take the buyers through Indiana, Illinois and Minnesota, the Journal & Courier reported. The group also stopped at a grain facility during their visit to Indiana.
Indiana Soybean Alliance hosted the group in partnership with the U.S. Soybean Export Council.
With summits and facility tours, the trip was ripe with educational opportunities. But business was at the forefront of the visit. China is an important market for Indiana soybeans, soy products and value-added products, such as poultry and meat.
According to the Indiana Soybean Alliance, China imported 895 million bushels of soybeans last year, representing more than half of all U.S. soybean exports.
The 27 members of the delegation that visited Lamie's farm represented some of the biggest soybean entities in China.
"These buyers for the big, big traders and processors . many of them do a big volume of daily processing. Three or four of them will process 14,000 to 20,000 metric tons per day. That's like a whole country," said Claudia Chong of the China-based American Soybean Association International. "It's the market season for the new crop, so the whole team includes many of the traders. More than 20 of them represent the biggest buyers and traders and processors, so they come to understand the new crop and see how big crop size will be and how good the quality will be. It will help them to make the purchasing decisions for the new crop."
One thing the Chinese delegation learned in Indiana is the impact unanticipated stress can have on the crops. After a summer of drought and heat, local soybean yields are anticipated to be lower than normal.
"I was here through the drought of 1988, and we had a localized drought in '91, but this is one of extreme that I've never experienced in the past," Lamie said.
Despite the hardships of the growing, Indiana farmers will still put out a crop for export this year.
"I'm sure that during their travels they are going to see a wide range of soybean yields and corn yields, and a variety in quality as well," Lamie said. "But I think one thing we would stress is technology. If we would have had this drought 10 years ago or 20 years ago, we wouldn't have the crops we have now because of the use of technology in our crops, so I think that's one big thing they'll probably take away from it."
Information from: Journal and Courier, http://www.jconline.com