Two U.S. farmers trek to Asia to promote our products
Kenny McNamar calls his trip last fall to China an eye-opener. At a feed mill near Shanghai, he was surprised to see how corn arrived.
“They opened the back of the truck and it was filled with gunny sacks,” said McNamar, who farms near Gorin, in northeastern Missouri. “Workers cut open the bags by hand to dump the corn into the pit.”
This is just one example that McNamar witnessed of the labor-intensive nature of Chinese agriculture, leading him to believe that there’s great hope for U.S. ag export growth. It helps explain why McNamar found that the price farmers receive for corn in China runs higher than the U.S. price. “It would be cheaper for them to import corn than to grow it,” he said.
McNamar, president of the Missouri Corn Growers Association, raises 700 acres of soybeans and corn and 150 beef cows, with help from his wife, Donna and son, Chris. He traveled to China, Japan and Taiwan to promote U.S. ag exports with three other farmers, two corn staffers and representatives of the U.S. Grains Council.
McNamar thinks this type of promotional effort is well worth it. “Most farmers don’t realize the importance of exports,” he said. “Exports help stabilize the price we receive for our products.”
As you look over your fields, consider this: In the U.S., about 20 percent of your corn and 59 percent of your soybeans go to export markets, according to the U.S. Grains Council and the Missouri Soybean Association.
Gary Marshall, CEO of Missouri Corn Growers Association, explains how farmers like McNamar, who live near the Mississippi River, especially benefit from exports. “The corn market is 20 to 25 cents higher within 75 miles of major users and/or river terminals,” he said. “With Missouri having the good fortune of two major rivers, we also have a distinct advantage over other corn states in transportation costs.”
Kansas grower sees rising demand
Keith Miller of Great Bend, Kan., lives about 250 miles from the nearest river grain hub, but he, too, benefits from exports. He raises wheat, corn, soybeans, milo, alfalfa and 350 head of Angus on 7,500 acres. Like McNamar, he’s seen export opportunities first-hand, trekking to Asia several times as president of the U.S. Meat Export Federation. In addition to meeting with trade officials in urban centers, he traveled through the Chinese countryside by train.
“Things are still done by hand,” Miller said. “There’s no