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Source: Iowa Soybean Association news release

Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) and agribusiness leaders will travel to China next week to bolster already strong bonds with soybean buyers and explore new growth opportunities.

The ISA China Mission is scheduled for July 23-Aug. 1. Participants will get the latest updates on soybean demand and policy, visit farms and soybean processors and learn how soybean products can help the country's growing dairy industry through a first-ever trip by ISA representatives to the province of Inner Mongolia.

The ISA delegation includes President Brian Kemp, who farms near Sibley; President Elect Tom Oswald, who farms near Cleghorn; CEO Kirk Leeds, Market Development Director Grant Kimberley and Senior Writer Matthew Wilde.

"Missions like this help ISA continue to understand the needs of the most important export customer in the world - China. Over the years, ISA leaders have invested a fair amount of time and checkoff dollars to build and grow strong relationships with key and potential customers," Leeds said.

More than one out of every four rows of U.S. soybeans are exported to China, the world's largest soybean buyer. U.S. farmers exported a record 1.58 billion bushels in 2013, valued at nearly $28 billion, data shows. Soybean exports this year are on pace to set a new record.

Mission trip highlights include:
Meet Chinese government and agricultural business officials in Beijing to learn about soy demand, food policy, production, transportation and issues concerning genetically modified organisms (GMOs), among other things.
Visit farms in Hebei province, Iowa's sister state.
Travel to Inner Mongolia to visit dairy farms and feed operations.
Tour several soybean processors, including Hopefull Grain & Oil Group Co. and COFCO (China Oilseed & Feed Corporation), the nation's largest. Stops at ports, livestock farms and feed mills are also on the agenda.

Though ISA officials will meet with Chinese leaders in Beijing and visit major population centers, Leeds said it's important to visit areas where "new growth" for soybeans and soybean meal is projected.

"That's why we are so anxious to visit Inner Mongolia, which we believe is poised for solid growth in the next decade," Leeds said.

The best way to understand customer needs is by showing up at their doorstep and boardrooms, ISA officials say. Iowa has a special connection with China, fostered in part by a longstanding relationship between Gov. Terry Branstad and President Xi Jinping and groups like ISA and the U.S. Soybean Export Council.

Kimberley said these relationships and visits build customer preference and brand recognition. Chinese agriculture and business officials recently toured Rick and Martha Kimberley's farm near Maxwell following a soybean purchasing ceremony in Des Moines.

"These relationships are important to proactively address any potential trade issues by building mutual understanding, trust and admiration for Iowa and U.S. soybeans," Kimberley said.

To learn more about ISA and read about the trip, including a daily blog, go to

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