|Chinese President Xi Jinping, center, flanked by Gov. Terry Branstad, left, and Iowa farmer Rick Kimberley, tours Kimberley's farm on Thursday, February 16, 2012. [Image: Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press, Pool]|
Midwestern American agricultural practices will be showcased in northern China at an Iowa working demonstration farm set to be built in 2017. The farm in Hebei Province will be modeled after a 4,000 acre corn and soybean farm operated by Rick and Martha Kimberley in Maxwell, Iowa; the same farm that Chinese President Xi Jinping visited in 2012.
A memorandum signed last November during Iowa Governor Terry Branstad's trade mission to Asia, describes the agreement for the farm. Plans are in place to replicate Iowa’s advanced crop varieties, biotechnology seeds and farming techniques, and even the Kimberley’s farming equipment such as grain bins and machine sleds. Hebei officials will invite American farmers to assist in running and managing the farm, helping Chinese farms modernize, and allowing for an exchange of agricultural techniques and diplomacy between the two states.
Iowa is currently the top producer of soybeans among US states, and China is the world's largest soybean consumer. In 2017, China’s demand for soybeans is projected to exceed the country’s domestic production by over 20%, a portion roughly equaling Iowa’s total 2015 soybean production. This increased demand is an opportunity for US exporters, and is driven partly by China’s expansion of hog and poultry operations that use soymeal for feed.
The model farm is part of the sister state program between Iowa and Hebei established in 1983. Iowa’s long-standing relationship with China dates back to Branstad’s first meeting with Mr Xi in 1985 when the latter visited Iowa as part of a Hebei delegation via the Iowa Sister State program. Branstad calls Xi a “longtime friend”. Branstad was recently nominated by President Donald Trump to serve as US ambassador to China.
In addition to the farm in Hebei, there are discussions of possible tourist developments which resemble the American Midwestern community.
Alison Ma is a research intern at the East-West Center in Washington, DC. She is on an exchange program from the University of Sydney.