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Published September 16, 2012, 11:30 PM

‘I have never seen soybeans’

International trade team visits North Dakota farms
HILLSBORO, N.D. – Sunday was a day of firsts for Alex Tay. A trader from Singapore, Tay was one of several members of an international trade team from China, Indonesia and Thailand that visited farms and other locations in North Dakota throughout the weekend.

HILLSBORO, N.D. – Sunday was a day of firsts for Alex Tay.

A trader from Singapore, Tay was one of several members of an international trade team from China, Indonesia and Thailand that visited farms and other locations in North Dakota throughout the weekend.

As he and the rest of the team visited the farm of Peter Lovas in Hillsboro, Tay said one of the things he was enjoying most about the tour was actually getting to see crops firsthand.

“I have never seen soybeans. I have never seen corn,” Tay said. “In Singapore, we don’t grow anything.”

Organized and hosted by the North Dakota Soybean Council, the tour also took the international visitors to farms in Casselton, Mayville and Colfax.

During the Hillsboro visit, Lovas explained his 5,000-acre farm and his crops to the roughly 12 visitors, all of whom listened intently, jotted down notes or took photos and video on their phones.

Diana Beitelspacher, the council’s CEO, said the goal of the trip was chiefly to build relationships among the farmers and traders.

“This is a relationship-focused business,” Beitelspacher said. “(The tour) is a wonderful learning opportunity for everyone here.”

American farms operate on a much larger scale than the foreign guests are used to, added Molly Fern, a program coordinator with the council.

“It’s neat for them to do things like ride on combines, and see how we do things here,” Fern said.

For Tay, visiting the United States for the first time, it was that kind of new experience and knowledge that would be useful in helping traders back in Singapore understand how the American farming system works, he said.

“To understand the logistics, and to see the way farmers think, these are important factors to us as traders,” Tay added. “These are really fantastic.”


Readers can reach Forum reporter Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535

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