(DES MOINES) – The following message is a pool report from Xi Jinping’s visit to a farm just outside Des Moines, Iowa / written by Kyle Munson of The Des Moines Register and William Wan of The Washington Post.
Xi is met by the Kimberley family in front of their home. Among those present:
Rick Kimberley, 61, soybean and corn farmer
his wife Martha Kimberley
their son Grant Kimberley, 36
Also greeting them was Gov. Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, U.S. Agriculture Sec. Vilsack and Iowa Agriculture Sec. Bill Northey
Xi smiles in appreciation when Grant Kimberley greets him by saying, “Ni hao” (hello in Chinese).
On the walk into the house, Rick Kimberley explains theirs is a family farm. Purchased by his father in 1950, but the family comes from a long line of farmers.
The large Chinese and American delegation enters home and sit in living room, wood paneling, in front of fireplace. There are corn seeds in a glass vase on table in front of Xi.
INSIDE THE HOUSE
Xi Jinping sat down on the living room sofa next to Iowa corn and soybean farmer Rick Kimberley, with Kimberley’s 8-month-old grandson, Austin, gurgling on his mother Natalie’s lap nearby with a sippy cup. Xi, China’s future leader, noted that farming seems like “stable employment” in Iowa.
Kimberley and his wife, Martha, run a fifth-generation farm of 4,000 acres in rural Maxwell and played host to Xi and his delegation as the final stop in his two-day trip to Iowa. Seventy or so people trampled into the Kimberley’s living room for the occasion. A centerpiece of red roses on the coffee table in front of Xi was flanked by a pair of large glass bowls ¬ one holding soybeans, the other corn.
“Would you like your family to keep doing farming?” Xi asked Kimberley through a translator.
“Yes we’re very interested in Grant continuing to farm,” Kimberley answered, then gestured toward his grandson that perhaps the seventh generation would end up following the family trade, too. Xi played the role of curious agricultural reporter for much of the living
“How do you read market signs and signals?” the current Chinese Vice President wondered.
“That is probably the toughest part of farming ¬ to market our crops,” said Kimberley, who has farmed for 40 years.
There was more discussion of how to weather years of weak harvest, and Kimberley touted Iowa’s “tremendous soils” and “rainfall patterns.”
“We are someone you can rely on. We can produce good product, and a safe product.”
The living-room ag session took place with other dignitaries circled around on chairs in front of the brick fireplace and family photos arranged on the mantle: Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and Chinese Agriculture Minister Han Changfu. The Kimberley’s family included his son, Grant, who farms with his dad and has traveled to China four times ¬ with another trip slated in March.
“We are so glad to see such a harmonious family,” Xi said
“This is away from the sound and the fury of the cities, and the air here is very fresh.”
“This is a very homey environment,” Xi said. “I really enjoy it.”
Xi is given gifts, including a toy model John Deere tractor trailer and baseball cap.
Rick Kimberley takes Xi and Chinese minsters on a tour of his farm. The farm consists of barren fields with some ice and frost visible. They walk along gravel driveway to a cluster of grain bins and a silo is visible in distance.
Rick Kimberley brings Xi to several large pieces of equipment and explains what each one does, including Jon Deere tractor trailer, combine and seed planter.
Xi asks many questions about the farm, whether Kimberley had trouble gaining financing for his crops, how much grain can be stored in the grain bins, how the hulking seed planter equipment
“We plant at 5 miles per hour…the planter is very precise, dropping 8 beans to the foot,” Rick Kimberley tells him.
Xi climbs up into a climbed John Deere tractor trailer with Rick Kimberley. The swarm of photographers goes crazy, with some members of Chinese press climbing onto the tractor to get photos of them inside.
They climb down and Xi shakes Kimberley’s hand goodbye, telling him through an interpreter: “I hope that everything you plant this spring will have a good outcome at harvest.”