Japenese trade officials tour Michigan farms

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Charlotte, Mich (WLNS) — Trade wars and poor weather have put strains on Michigan farmers.

“This year has been particularly difficult,” Gary Parr, Owner of Parr Farms in Charlotte said.

Parr’s Farm has been around since 1901 and Parr said he depends on exporting to keep the farm afloat.

“A lot of our buying was to China so anytime we can develop new markets and spread out… the more markets the better,” Parr said.

Today, Parr Farms got a visit from Japenese trade officials who are traveling around the state to tour farms and production sites.

For the past 10 years, the Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee and the U.S. Soy Export Council have partnered to bring in buyers from all over the world. More than one billion dollars in soybean business is expected to take place in the next few days.

Kathy Maurer, a financial and international marketing director with the promotion committee said, “With our international buyers it’s really important for them to see the value of having a five or six generational farms.”

Parr grows a very particular type of soybean at his farm. It’s known as the Nato bean, and it’s very hard to come by.

“Most of our other food-grade beans go to tofu, and the nato beans are either used to make nato, or they will be used as a sprouting bean,” Parr said.

Parr adds that tradition is very important for Japanese buyers, which is what makes his five-generation farm appealing.

“They like to see where their food is coming from and the fact that the food is coming from a family farm is important to them,” Parr said.

Soybeans are Michigan’s most valued crop, with more than 490-million dollars in export value in 2017, but in the last few years, farmers have been making significantly less money.

Parr says down years come with the territory of being a farmer.

“You just endure and make the best of your current situation,” Parr said.

Trade officials will also make stops to MSU, Zeeland, and finally Chicago– where they will attend a major trade conference with thousands of other buyers.

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