"Their diets and incomes have improved and they're going to see continued livestock expansion," says Don. "That's going to take more corn and feedstocks and soybean meal to feed those herds. Add in they're losing ag ground to industrialization and a lack of clean water, and I don't think there's any way they will be able to grow enough corn for their own needs."
Joe (left) and
As a result of their friendship with visiting Purdue Professor Penghui Dou, last November Don and Joe, along with parents and farm partners Andy and Pat Wyss, were able to get a first hand look at Chinese agriculture when they were invited to speak at the 14th Annual China Yangling Agricultural Hi-Tech Fair (CAF), one of the most famous fairs in China.
It became clear to the Wyss family that Chinese agriculture has some significant barriers to efficiencies. For one, economies of scale hold back production. Typical farms there are a third to two-thirds of an acre, although some farms in the northwest are larger.
"Here in the
The Wyss family visited officials at the Hopefull Grain and Oil Group in
"They have their work cut out for them," he says. "As fast as their economy is growing, at 9 to 10 percent each year, there's a lot of people making more money and improving diets, eating better foods. They have to make continued dramatic steps in the right direction to maintain food production or they are going to face importing more bulk commodities like corn."
A lack of mechanization and modernization has caused many Chinese farmers to move to the city in search of better incomes. "There's a desire for many people on the farm to find a way out," says Joe. "In a lot of ways, the farming lifestyle is seen as a lower lifestyle. Some people we met were shocked that we had college degrees but were still interested in staying on the farm."
"They're definitely open to change and improving their situation," concludes Don. "They have a passion for farming, but resources are an issue. They're not going to be able to make big enough strides to prevent becoming an importer of corn."
For more on the Wyss visit to