Marek travels to China
RIVERSIDE – With the largest population in the world and an increasing need for nutritious food, China has become a major market for U.S. produced food. Recently the United States Department of Agriculture asked longtime soy advocate Larry Marek to visit China to promote U.S. soy.
Marek said the USDA asked two farmers – him and another farmer, Richard Wilkins from Delaware – to attend the trip. He said the trip began May 5 and he returned home on May 10. He said that he was approached during mid-April. The goal of the visit was to show Chinese agricultural investors that U.S. soy was the best quality the world has to offer.
“It is really a growing country,” he said. “At one time 80 percent of the people lived out in the country. They knew they had to get those people into the cities. The farms were about 2 acres each. As the size of the farms grow they know the farms can become more efficient and produce more food. The people also have to make more money than they are. In the country people are making about $4 per day. In the cities they can make more.”
He said there was plenty of building happening in the cities. He said the joke was that the national bird of China was the crane, because there were always cranes being used to construct tall buildings.
During the visit, Marek said he visited several cities to explore the uses of soy in aiding the growth of the country. He said that China has greatly improved its diet. He said with increased poultry comes a demand for poultry, which provides more job opportunities. It also provides a demand for U.S. feed, such as corn.
“It’s a land of contrasts,” Marek said. “Some are very wealthy. Some are making millions and others are making a few dollars a day. It is an ambitious land. Everyone is working.”
He said many of the people he ran into had been educated in the United States and spoke English. He said they had been educated in agricultural production. One of the companies he visited – established in 1995 – now employs 6,000 people and provides a major share in China’s food production.
“They are going to have a bigger market share,” Marek said. ‘Those are the ones we are trying to hook up with. As they grow bigger, they are going to need more soybean meal. You have to service that trade; that is what we were doing.”
This wasn’t the first time Marek has advocated for soy use worldwide. Just a year ago he had visited three countries in Africa. He has also visited Japan and Taiwan for buyers conferences. Marek has also represented to the United Soybean Board in France, Germany and South America. He said that he has advocated for soy use, not only for nutrition, but also as an adhesive which is a substitute for marble. He said that many parts used on agricultural machinery are soy-based.
“I had always wanted to visit China just to see where all our soybeans were going,” he said.