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Taiwan trade mission tours Palo Alto farm

By Staff | Nov 5, 2010

A group of importing officials from the country of Taiwan visited the farm of Jim and Jan Stillman last Friday to learn first-hand about the inner workings of the American soybean producer. Jim Stillman, a member of the Iowa and American soybean associations, hosted the group and answered questions about all aspects of raising the crop, from planting to growing to harvesting and marketing. The visit was part of a four-state trip for the group that was coordinated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the American Soybean Association.

EMMETSBURG – For 13 visitors from Taiwan, a new understanding of the efforts of the American soybean producer was gained through a visit recently to a Palo Alto County farm. Jim and Jan Stillman hosted a delegation of grain importing executives from the Chinese nation as part of a U.S. visit by the group.

The delegation began its visit to the United States Oct. 4 through a program arranged jointly by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Foreign Agricultural Service, United Soybean Board and the American Soybean Association. After several days of meetings and talks, the delegation went to the true source to see what the average soybean producer was growing, and how the process works.

After gathering in Minneapolis earlier in the week, the group traveled to Emmetsburg on Thursday evening to stay at the Wild Rose Casino and Resort and then started a tour of soybean producers on Friday, Oct. 8. The group started their day with a visit to the farm of Jim and Jan Stillman, where they visited with Stillman for nearly two hours.

Stillman, who has been a long-time member of both the Iowa Soybean and the American Soybean Associations, answered questions from members of the group and showed them portions of his farming operation.

The delegation members asked questions ranging from crop input costs to growing expenses, pricing for the finished crop and technical questions regarding the growing and harvesting of soybeans.

Of special interest of the delegation was the cleanliness of the harvested soybeans. One member of the group, Mr. Peng-Chou Yen, a purchasing specialist for TTET Union Corp., explained how many times, shipments of soybeans arrive in Taiwan with high percentages of pods and other foreign materials, which lower the quality of the product.

All members of the group were impressed with the lack of foreign materials in a sample of freshly harvested beans Stillman pulled from a storage bin at his farmstead.

Factors that play a role each year in the soybean season were also explained by Stillman, including growing beans in a moist season, such as this year’s, which affects the size of the soybean. Meng Kuei Tsai of the Central Union Oil Corp. explained that a larger soybean produces more oil, and when smaller soybeans are grown, more are required to produce the same quantity of soy oil.

“We had the problem of wet feet for soybeans this year,” Stillman explained, drawing laughter and smiles from the delegation. “It was a wetter than normal growing season, so our soybeans did not grow as large as we would have liked, but we hope you will still want to buy them.”

The group exchanged gifts with the Stallman’s prior to leaving to continue their tour, which wraps up this weekend in St. Louis after other stops in Iowa and visits to facilities in Illinois and Missouri.

“We hope that by bringing these people here to see what the American producer is striving to grow, it will make them want to continue buying from us, especially Iowa soybean growers,” Jim Stillman said. “It’s a win-win situation for all of us.”

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