New efforts in export trade
A team of Japanese opinion leaders toured two family farms in St. Charles County this fall, where they received a firsthand look at U.S. corn production. They also learned more about how biotechnology is helping corn farmers meet the growing demand for feed, food, fuel and exports.
Visiting the farms of Missouri Corn Growers Association members Wayne Boschert and John Boerding in September were media representatives from Japan’s food and livestock industry, as well as university professors and a consumer group leader. U.S. Grains Council representatives and a translator also accompanied the team.
• Missouri farm families host a team of Japanese leaders on an U.S. ag tour.
• Growers explain corn production and use of biotechnology.
• The tour is part of an effort to educate and build confidence in U.S. corn.
Part of a weeklong tour of Missouri and other Midwest states, the team started their day with a visit to a St. Louis biotech company. Afterwards, the Japanese delegation traveled to St. Charles to meet Wayne and Scott Boschert and tour their family farm. During the discussion, the team was able to compare the quality of biotech corn versus non-biotech corn.
“It was important that this group understand the science behind today’s farming is making a difference both now and in the long run,” said Wayne Boschert. “Today’s technology is helping increase our yield, which in turn increases global supplies for our customers all over the world.”
Of great interest to the Japanese team were ears of corn and cornstalks that had been harvested that morning. Discussions centered on the higher stalk quality, reduced pest damage and increased supply resulting from the use of biotechnology.
“I felt a warm reception upon my arrival,” said Hirofumi Iwata, executive director of Animal Media Co. “I had an image of a farm run by a company and was surprised to find out it is run by a family, still interested in constantly progressing and not just maintaining the status quo in production, but in increasing their yield.”
The Missouri way
In addition to discussin modern farming practices, the Japanese team wanted to learn more of the history of the Boschert family farm. Wayne is a fifth-generation corn farmer. His son, Scott, is also a partner in the farming operation. Together, they farm 700 acres of corn and soybeans in the river bottom.
“The fact that Wayne Boschert is a fifth-generation farmer and his son, Scott, is a sixth-generation farmer is non-existent in Japan,” said Hideaki Karaki, professor emeritus for the University of Tokyo. “The fact that he doesn’t want to retire and is happy to be farming, along with the fact that the family didn’t have to sell off the farm, especially during the Great Depression, is incredible. To hear someone in Japan say, ‘I’m so happy I don’t want to retire’ is not conceivable.”
After touring a corn plot at the Boschert farm, the group traveled a few miles down the road to the Boerding farm. At the second location, tour participants explored the equipment used to plant this year’s corn crop. Afterward, Japanese team members rode in a combine and experienced harvesting firsthand.
“From the time I started farming to now, we’re raising almost double the corn crop,” said John Boerding, a grain farmer from St. Charles. “Without that growth, we’d be in trouble. You can’t feed a growing global population with the same technology we were using 50 years ago. We must continue to grow and evolve along with the rest of the world.”
Full ag tour
After leaving St. Charles, the Japanese team made stops at Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, the Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa, as well as an ethanol plant and several other seed producers and elevators along the way. Upon returning to Japan, team members were to report on the use of biotech and its attributes as well as the agricultural experiences they had while visiting the U.S.
“Exports play a big role in marketing our corn crop,” Boerding said. “We want buyers to have complete confidence in our product and know that biotechnology is helping them through better quality of grain and a better supply of grain. We also want both our local and our global partners to understand that their corn comes from a family farm — and we hope it stays that way.”
U.S. Grains Council organized the Japanese trip. USGC focuses on building export markets for U.S. barley, corn, grain sorghum and related products. To learn more about the USGC, visit www.grains.org. To find out more about Missouri corn farmers, visit www.mocorn.org.
Source: Missouri Corn Growers Association
This article published in the November, 2010 edition of MISSOURI RURALIST.