Iowa county soybean field.

Iowa county soybean field.

The U.S. Soybean Export Council is hosting a ceremony in Iowa today to mark the sale of soybeans to China.

Laura Foell, a soybean producer from Schaller, Iowa, is chairman of the U.S. Soybean Export Council. She’ll be there, along with representatives of the Chinese government.

“This is to show, put that face of the farmer (forward) and so that the customers know that we care about their purchases,” she says, “and we care about what we’re growing.”

Chinese officials will reveal the amount of U.S. soybeans they plan to buy at the ceremony, which will be held in Des Moines. Similar events in the past have formalized the purchase of $2.3 billion worth of U.S. soybeans in 2014 and $2.8 billion the year before. China is the top buyer of U.S. soy products, purchasing about 25 percent of all U.S. soy production annually.

“Last year 62 percent of our soybeans were exported,” Foell says, “so we need to make sure what we’re not using domestically in our livestock industry or our human nutrition industry that we have a home for overseas.”

Foell, though, says it’s important not to have an over-reliance on soybean sales to China and continue to court customers in Europe and other Asian countries like Malaysia and Vietnam.

“What are the growth areas? Bangladesh, Pakistan. Those areas are starting to use U.S. Soybeans, so we will be doing some work there,” she says. “India…they cannot produce enough.”

U.S. soybeans have lower protein levels than beans raised in South America, but U.S. soybeans have higher amino acid levels which makes “soybean meal” from the U.S. more valuable for feeding at livestock operations and fish farms throughout the world.

(Reporting by Dan Skelton, KICD, Spencer)