BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Chinese media representatives and ethanol producers recently visited Gerald Thompson’s family farm near Bloomington. The group learned about Illinois agriculture from area farmers and was specifically interested in the process of producing corn for ethanol.
“I was impressed that they came with an open mind about agriculture in the United States,” said Gary Speckhart, District 9 Director, Illinois Farm Bureau. “They asked questions and we tried to be positive in our responses.”
The Chinese asked questions about conventional farming, crop rotations, corn storage and grain quality. In addition, the group asked about genetically engineered corn and sweet corn. They were also curious if many farmers had ownership in or sold directly to ethanol plants.
The trade and tariff dispute between the U.S. and China came up as well. Speckhart noted the Illinois farmers emphasized that their priority is to resume grain exports to China in a peaceful manner.
After the Thompson farm, the group visited a nearby ethanol plant and biofuel service station.
By 2020, China’s goal is to have nationwide availability of E10 biofuel. This will require a drastic increase in their ethanol production capacity — from 2.8 million tons currently to 15 million tons.
The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) organized the event. Speckhart and Dirk Rice, vice chairman of the Illinois Corn Marketing Board, currently serve as the USGC Asia Advisory Team members from Illinois.
— Illinois Farm Bureau
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