Jerilyn Johnson Archives China Buys Beans Under the Arch Chinese delegates sign soybean and agricultural trade agreement in St. Louis. Published on: Jun 17, 2008 Tweet Post to Your Wall. Email Story RSS Permalink Print St. Louis was the site for a historic agriculture trade agreement on June 16. A delegation of Chinese soybean buyers, along with Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan, attended a trade ceremony in St. Louis to sign an agreement to purchase more than $4.5 billion worth of U.S. soybeans. "People in Washington, D.C., were shocked that the Vice Premier would stop in St. Louis before he came to the nation's capital," said Sen. Kit Bond in a news conference after the meeting. "But that just goes to show you, people do a lot of talking in Washington, but they actually do things out here in Middle America." The United Soybean Board, the United States Soybean Export Council and the American Soybean Association helped facilitate contracts between eight U.S. exporters and 14 Chinese importers. Terry Ecker, a soybean farmer from Elmo, Mo., serves as international marketing chair for the USB. "The soybean checkoff helps drive demand and preference for U.S. soybeans," Ecker said. "The funds from state and national soybean boards have helped to turn China from one of the largest exporters of soybeans into the largest importer of U.S. soybeans." The Missouri Department of Agriculture signed a memorandum of understanding with China's Chamber of Commerce of Import/Export of Foodstuffs, Native Produce and Animal By-Products calling for the expansion and promotion of agricultural and food trade, especially in soybeans. "Missouri is honored to work with the Chinese delegation partnering to ensure a continued trade relationship," said Katie Smith, director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture. "Missouri soybean producers continue to provide quality soybeans to consumers all over the U.S. and the world." Did You Know? Soybeans are the No. 1 U.S. agricultural export, valued at more than $9 billion annually. Missouri ranks 5th in soybean production across the nation and continues to be the state's No. 1 cash crop. China has bought a record-breaking 436 million bushels of soybeans from the U.S. this growing season, more than double the amount of soybeans grown in Missouri last year. Missouri exported more than $107 million in soybeans to China last year.