In nine years, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey has made about six trips to China. He just got back from the most recent trip with the Iowa Soybean Association.
Northey says China is a huge figure in soybeans, they buy about 60 percent of the worlds bean exports. China also has a huge demand for feed stocks. Half the worlds hogs live in China, about 450 million, which he estimates at 20 times Iowa’s inventory.
Northey says this trip was to understand the market and meet with customers who buy Iowa and U.S. soybeans.
But he says it can be frustrating to deal with China. Last year, the country rejected corn products for unapproved traits. He says it was political maneuvering to support domestic corn, which is significantly more expensive.
Northey says, ”It’s an uncomfortable nature that the government can do things that disrupt trade, and yet there’s still an important customer that our agriculture needs. Certainly one of the things that we were somewhat aware of, when you talk to feed producers they know exactly what the price of domestic corn is, versus imported corn. And right now, the price of domestic corn in China is still $9-$10 a bushel. Imported corn would cost them maybe $5.50.”