US farmers export nearly 66% of their total soybean output, with a full 25% going just to China. Image: Flickr user Jean-Francois Chenier.

US Soybean Farmers Travel to China and Vietnam to See Their Investments at Work

ASEAN China The Mekong

This summer, the United Soybean Board (USB) organized a 10-day trip that brought ten American soybean farmers from across the country to meet with soybean buyers in Shanghai, China and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. This trip was part of their “See for Yourself Tour,” a campaign by the soybean board to provide soybean growers the chance to see the fruits of their investments and to learn more about prospects for exports into the region.

Soybean farmers in America collectively fund a program called the “soybean checkoff”, which then conducts research into technology and other advances to increase productivity. In addition, the checkoff also helps the Board market their products worldwide and increase sales for American farmers.

In China, the soybean farmers toured an aquaculture facility that reported a 300% increase in production through technology that was funded by the checkoff and through the use of soy-based feed. Thanks to their investments, the farm uses feed that has at least 60 percent soy. They then toured a swine facility where soybean meal is used to feed and grow the pigs for distribution. China’s large population consumes about 25% of all soybeans that American farmers produce.

In contrast to the well-established Chinese market, this year’s trip to Vietnam is the first visit by USB to Southeast Asia, where soybean exports have grown tremendously over the past few years thanks to increasing demand. The famers first visited the Cai Mep Agricultural Port, which processes the soybean meal exported to the country. There, the farmers heard from industry experts about the increasing prospects of soy exports to Vietnam.

American agricultural organizations have also hosted delegations from Asia recently, including wheat buyers from the Philippines and soybean importers from across ASEAN traveling to North Dakota and Montana. Asia is an increasingly important export destination for American farm products, as middle class populations and demand for high-quality goods continues to grow.

Clarence Cabanero is a recent graduate from American University and is a Research Intern at the East West Center in Washington, DC.