Information courtesy of USSEC. Soybeans are barely out of the ground on many U.S. farms, but this year’s crop is already in high demand. China is the No. 1 customer of the 60 percent of U.S. soybeans that are exported each year as whole soybeans and soybean meal and oil. This month, the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC), with support from the United Soybean Board (USB), American Soybean Association (ASA) and Iowa Soybean Association and in conjunction with the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Foodstuffs, Native Produce and Animal By-Products (CFNA), will host a Chinese delegation of buyers at a soybean trade agreement contract signing ceremony July 13 at The Des Moines Embassy Club.“As China’s middle class expands, so does its appetite for protein – and more livestock means more opportunity for U.S. soy as a preferred feed ingredient,” said Xiaoping Zhang, USSEC Country Director – China. “In light of this trend, combined with a boost in trade relations between the U.S and China, the Chinese delegation is expected to sign contracts for a multi-billion dollar volume of U.S. Soy – one of the largest commitments ever.”The exact volume of this year’s purchase won’t be known until July 13. Last year, at similar events Chinese buyers purchased 9 million metric tons (MMT; more than 330 million bushels), of U.S. soybeans, worth nearly $4 billion, and in this marketing year exports to China have already been a record 34 MMT (~1.25 billion bushel).“This latest purchasing commitment signifies the strength of the soy industry and the integral partnership between the U.S. and China as the largest global producer and buyer of soy, respectively,” said Jim Miller, USSEC chair, ASA director and Nebraska soybean farmer. “International customers have many options; the decision of this Chinese delegation to purchase a large volume of U.S. Soy, year after year, is testament to the reliability of the U.S. as a supplier and the continuous improvement and sustainability of the crop.”This ceremony isn’t the only event celebrating the symbiotic relationship between the farmers who grow U.S. soy and the Chinese buyers who purchase large volumes of it. In June, USSEC CEO Jim Sutter moderated the China Grains and Oilseed Forum in Beijing. The Chinese buyers’ delegation will visit U.S. soybean farms in July. In September, USSEC will host an anniversary event in Beijing to celebrate the 35 years of U.S. Soy in China.In addition to soy, the Chinese delegation is also expected to sign contracts for U.S. sorghum, pork and beef at the July 13 event.USSEC connects U.S. soybean farmers with opportunities to improve human nutrition, livestock production and aquaculture. This mission is accomplished with a science-based technical foundation and a global network of partnerships including soybean farmers, exporters, agribusiness and agricultural organizations, researchers and government agencies.