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Iowa Businessman, Farmer Builds Relationships to Create Soybean Demand

10 Up & Comers: Grant Kimberley

Grant Kimberley’s job is about building relationships. It’s those relationships that the director of market development for the Iowa Soybean Association uses to create demand for soybeans and soybean products. 

Demand talk these days revolves around China. About 25% to 30% of total U.S. soybean production is exported to China, while 50% to 60% of U.S. soybean production is exported, in total, worldwide, says Kimberley. When visiting international markets in China or other countries, he talks with customers, livestock companies, government officials, and port facilities – all to communicate the value and the consistency in U.S. soybean production. 

 “People like to do business with people whom they know and trust,” says Kimberley. “They aren’t doing business with the farms directly, but they understand the care that goes into that crop and that U.S. farmers are providing the most sustainable crop possible. Buyers want to know that the soybeans are grown using sustainable methods.” 

For Kimberley, who also farms with his family near Maxwell, Iowa, it’s about helping famers remain profitable. 

“You can’t market in a vacuum from your office,” he says. “You have to put boots on the ground and let other markets know you understand their issues.”

He’s found that prices matter in marketing, but it’s not the only factor. “The Philippines will buy our soybean meal over South America’s if we’re only moderately more expensive,” he says. “That’s a direct response of building those relationships and the Filipino buyers seeing our meal as a higher-quality product.” By taking farmers there and bringing buyers here, they create a circle of trust.

 Kimberley, who also serves as the executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board, has also been involved in initiatives to help increase demand for soybeans and other ag products. 

“Even with record soybean crops, we have been able to maintain prices that are at a more profitable level,” he says.

Over the last 10 years, the U.S. biodiesel market has grown from 250 million gallons to nearly 2 billion gallons today, Kimberley says. That helps processors be more profitable and farmers have more demand.

Grant Kimberley is featured in Successful Farming magazine's "10 Up & Comers" article running on page 48 in the June/July issue.

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