DES MOINES, Iowa – It may not be the case on a map, but Iowa and northeast China are a lot closer than you may think.
This week, ag officials are in China on a trade mission, headed by USDA Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse. 8 state departments of agriculture are represented on the trip, along with agribusiness leaders from those states. On the delegation are representatives from Hagie Manufacturing, based in Clarion, Iowa and Iowa Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig, above.
“It’s my first trip to China,” said Naig of his goals before leaving, “and so for me personally, just to have the opportunity to see the size and the scale of China, and to get an understanding of how they see things and what their needs are.”
Currently, Naig is on the ground in China, but before he left, he highlighted the importance of strong trade relationships. “Our producers benefit from expanded market; our agribusinesses benefit from those expanded markets,” said Naig. “Chinese producers benefit from utilizing U.S. technologies and U.S. equipment: seed technology, for instance. And the Chinese consumer benefits from the availability of safe, quality products from Iowa.”
Northeast China is both the nerve center of China’s heavy industries, as well as its agricultural mecca. USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service reports that the region produces 41% of China’s soybeans, a third of its corn and between 30% and 50% of its rice. Government price programs abound in the region – for example this year officials will announce details of a deficiency payment program meant to boost domestic soybean production, as 85% of China’s beans are imported. As the country tries to increase its domestic production by way of government price programs, demand persists for both commodities and machinery. Naig says that’s a win for Iowa.
“We have something that a lot of countries around the world want,” Naig said, “and they really would like to tap into, and that’s that we have highly productive lands here. We’ve got excellent producers both on the crop side and on the livestock side. When people think of Iowa products, they know that they’re quality, that they’re safe and they’re available. And so, whether it’s China or several other countries around the world, we know that that’s how people view Iowa, and we want to extend that to the best we can. Again, to the extent that we can open markets and expand markets for Iowa producers and Iowa businesses, that’s a very good thing.”