Iowa farm will be re-created in Hebei

By Paul Welitzkin in New York | China Daily USA | Updated: 2016-12-20 12:03

Agriculture diplomacy is behind a plan to re-create an Iowa farm in Hebei province similar to the one that President Xi Jinping visited nearly five year years ago.

The farm in Hebei province near Chengde will be modeled after a 4,000-acre corn and soybean farm operated by Rick and Martha Kimberley in Maxwell, Iowa, which is located about 25 miles northeast of the state capital Des Moines.

Xi toured the Kimberley farm in February 2012, according to Grant Kimberly of the Iowa Soybean Association and son of the Kimberleys.

"We were contacted by the governor's office that Mr. Xi wanted to visit a farm because agriculture is very important to him and sees it as a cornerstone of US-China relations," said the sixth-generation farmer.

In addition to his parents, Grant's wife and then infant son were there to greet Xi, along with Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and other officials. Branstad has since been nominated by President-elect Donald Trump to serve as US ambassador to China.

The foundation for the visit was laid years earlier in 1980 when Xi's father, Xi Zhongxun, was part of a visiting Chinese delegation that went to Iowa to learn about US agriculture, said Grant Kimberly. Later in 1985, Xi himself visited the state as part of a delegation from Hebei. Xi at the time was a provincial agricultural official.

Grant Kimberley said Xi arrived on the farm and went into his parents' home to discuss farm issues. He said Xi talked about technology and remarked that it would be important for farms in China to modernize the way the Kimberley family had done with their operation.

Xi went out for a tour and eagerly climbed aboard a huge tractor on the farm. "You could tell he was excited to get inside a big tractor," Grant Kimberley said.

Grant's father remembers that Xi was cordial and nice to everyone on his visit to his farm. "He was someone that was open and he talked to us like we were friends," Rick Kimberley said in an interview. "He knew a lot about agriculture and knows how important food is to China and the US."

Officials in Hebei province are considering developing a demonstration farm similar to the Kimberley farmstead that will include grain bins, a machine shed and perhaps a replica of the home.

"We are in the planning stage now. There are lots of possibilities (and) one of them includes a replica of the Kimberley farm," Kim Heidemann, executive director of the Iowa Sister States program, wrote in an email. Hebei has had a sister-state relationship with Iowa since 1983.

In addition to a farm, there is a possibility of a tourist development that would include hotels and restaurants, said Heidemann.

"It might be like a Disney World-type attraction and may also include recreating an Iowa small town," Grant Kimberley said.

"There is a bank in China that is financing the project," noted Heidemann. Work on the project may start next year.

Grant Kimberley said there is also the possibility of developing another model farm and tourist destination in Jilin province.


Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349