The recent trade mission to Japan and Korea by Indiana government officials, including leaders from the Indiana State Department of Agriculture and pork and timber industry representatives, took a turn not taken at most intense trade mission meetings. The ag component of the trip headed outside of Tokyo for a day to discover what Japanese agriculture was like.
"I believe it was really important for us to have a change of pace, and to see what Japanese ag production is like," says Beth Bechdol, assistant director of ISDA. Bechdol and director Andy Miller were both on this recent trade mission headed by Gov. Daniels.
"It's really important in agriculture to understand what agriculture is like there, in the country that you want to do business with," Bechdol believes. "If we can understand where they're coming from and get a better feel for their industry, we can get a better handle on how to build relationships with them."
One revelation the Indiana ag team portion of the delegation uncovered was that the entire country of Japan raises about as many hogs as the state of Indiana. They visited Global Pig Farms, a swine enterprise in Japan.
"We also spent time visiting traditional Japanese rice paddies," Bechdol relates. "Some of those were barely an acre in size.
"What all of this did for us was help us better see cultural connections between our countries. There are subtle differences in how they do things, but there are also similarities in what they do compared to U.S. agriculture, and particularly to agriculture and farming here in Indiana."
The bottom line is to take this information and impressions and turn it into reasoning and understanding when bargaining with companies, or seeking to get them to invest in Indiana, by bringing business here, she explains.