Ryan Gallaher visits China
Ryan Gallagher traveled to China this past December. He spent 10 days traveling from the countryside to more modern areas of China, such as Hong Kong.
He took part in an I-LEAD class through the Iowa Corn Growers Association, which gave him the opportunity to travel to China.
“It was a very exciting trip,” Gallagher said. “Some of the things were what I expected and some of the things weren’t what I expected.”
When he first arrived in China he was surprised how modern the roads were.
“The roads were asphalt and looked like they were constructed in the last 20 years,” he said. “Also, the vehicles were newer, from the year 2,000 up, I’d say. We also saw a lot of motorcycles and bicycles.”
He also saw a lot of construction happening.
“When you got to the cities and villages you saw cranes building condos, more than what they needed,” Gallagher said. “But it was probably to keep the people at work in the cities. They were also tearing down the older buildings and putting up [modern] skyscrapers.”
However, not every village was modernized. When Gallagher traveled from Bei Jing to Hebei for five hours on a bus he saw older villages that were run-down, which is what he expected.
There also wasn’t any housing by the farm fields.
“In the rural areas you’d see people working in the fields with no machinery and didn’t see any rural housing,” he said. “You’d come to a village and see a lot of housing there. I don’t think they let people live out in the country like we do here because it’s all used for farmland.”
As part of the I-LEAD class, Gallagher was able to visit feed mill operation facilities. He learned about some of the efficient ways things are done in the Chinese agricultural industry and some of the inefficient ways things are done.
“One inefficient way is how the livestock feed goes out,” Gallagher said. “The livestock feed is in 50-pound bags and not in bulk quantities. We were at a feed mill and saw two guys loading these 50-pound bags by hand onto a semi, when right next to them was a forklift that could have been used.”
However, at another feed mill facility everything was computerized, he said. Two to three people sitting at a computer ran the machinery in the building. The facility would also operate opposite of peak demand times for electricity, mostly at night.
There were a couple of interesting things he learned that might surprise other people.
“One interesting thing about China is companies were pushing American pork as a delicacy,” he said. “We were able to do a taste test between Chinese pork and American pork and ours definitely tasted better.”
The difference in taste could be caused by a couple of things, such as quality control and genetics, Gallagher said.
Another interesting item he learned was the price per bushel of corn. The government controls the pricing of corn products, he said.
“Corn in one area got to $9 a bushel,” Gallagher said. “People would tell me it’s cheaper to import corn than buy it there.”
If he were given the chance to travel abroad again he probably would, but not to China.
“I’d like to go to South America to see how a competitor does things, rather than a consumer,” Gallagher said.