Creating and sustaining relationships is vital to continued success no matter the business. For Illinois soy, this means more than meets the eye with trade team visits. International buyers have a desire to know exactly where their soybeans are coming from, the field and farmer alike. Because of this, Illinois farmers host international buyers on their farm where they can learn directly from farmers growing the soybeans they are buying, about their farming practices, sustainability measures, and experience the soybeans in the field.
Besides growing soybeans and other crops, Illinois farmers take great pride in hosting buyers on trade team visits throughout the year. The opportunity to show where soybeans are grown along with creating relationships is vital to the Illinois farmer. They greatly value these interactions with over 60% of soybeans grown in Illinois exported. These one-day interactions can change an entire course of purchasing by the buyer.
During these visits, international buyers visit a soybean farm where they learn directly from a farmer about their farming operation. Trade teams visit with the farmer, walk in the fields to experience where the soybeans are grown or are often growing at the time, sometimes have the ability to ride with the farmer in their tractor or combine, and ultimately learn the many steps their end product must take to make the international journey. Trade doesn’t just happen naturally, and the visits with the farmers allow the buyers to experience that.
The international visitors ask the farmer questions about their sustainability, growing ideas, and about their future farming goals. These visits also enable soybean farmers the unique opportunity to meet their buyers and educate them about the product they are buying. Often, the buyers visiting the farm have never seen a field as large and vast as Illinois fields. Seeing photos online and having the ability to see the farming operation in-person are two vastly different things for the buyer.
These visits allow buyers to walk into the field with the farmer, understand the tillage practices the farmer may prefer, see the soybean being grown at various stages depending on the time of year, often being the first time they have had this experience. This personable experience is unique for not only the buyers but for farmers as well, where they meet the people that may be purchasing and shipping these Illinois soybeans overseas.
Since 2010, there have been 59 countries that have visited Illinois soybean farms. These countries include China, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, and Taiwan. Most of these overseas buyers are interested in knowing the origin of the soy being purchased and meeting Illinois soy farmers is critical to their decision making.
With the ability to have virtual visits, we have been able to continue meeting our buyers over the past year. ISA looks forward to connecting with our buyers and farmers in-person this year.
Building in-person relationships takes more than emails, video chats, and phone calls combined. These essential visits provide both Illinois farmers and buyers alike with a unique and unmatched occasion.