Iowa is the nation’s top soybean producer and a delegation of Iowa soybean farmers has just returned from a trip to South America to learn about how soybeans are grown there.

Iowa Soybean Association director Kirk Leeds says it was worthwhile to see how Iowa’s competitors in Argentina and Brazil are overcoming similar obstacles.

“We spent a fair amount of time on various soybean farms. We visited some of the infrastructure, some of the port facilities, met with government officials,” Leeds says. “We’re trying to understand the issues related to soybean production in South America, really, our #1 competitor in the world.” Leeds says he heard concerns from officials in Argentina and Brazil about the policies of the new Trump administration, while talking to them about recent changes in their governments as well.

“They are reducing some of their taxes in both countries related to ag exports, but there were a lot of questions about Mr. Trump and whether the rhetoric about trade and immigration was for real,” Leeds says. “We had some really interesting conversations about the status of all of the administrations.” Leeds says there was also discussion on the future of soybean prices on the worldwide scale.

“These certainly are competitors when it comes to overall production but they’re also collaborators and partners when you think about global trade and issues like biotechnology and consumer acceptance of GMO crops,” he says. “We have a lot in common and we share some interests as well in opening up trade with countries like China.”

Speaking of China, Leeds says he’s hopeful for further development of agricultural ties with that country as Iowa Governor Terry Branstad is expected to be named the U.S. Ambassador to China this spring. Leeds will be traveling to China soon with a group of ag officials to see what is happening in soybean production and meeting with their Chinese counterparts.

(By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)