Chinese buyers’ commitment to purchase nearly $3 billion in U.S. soybeans demonstrates the Asian nation’s long, robust relationship with U.S. soybean farmers, said United Soybean Board (USB) Chairman Phil Bradshaw, a soybean farmer from Griggsville, Ill.

“U.S. soybean farmers’ relationship with their Chinese customers spans 30 years,” Bradshaw said at a recent ceremony held at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. Twelve Chinese import companies signed contracts to purchase an additional $3 billion in U.S. soy.

“These contracts are only the latest example of a relationship we expect to grow even more in the future,” Bradshaw said.

The soybean checkoff helps drive demand in China and around the world for U.S. soy. Nearly a quarter of the entire 2009 U.S. soybean crop was exported to China. Total global U.S. soy exports soared tenfold over the last decade to $21 billion in 2010.

In addition to USB’s Bradshaw, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack participated in the ceremony, as did Jiang Zengwei, vice-minister of the China Ministry of Commerce.

“This visit fully indicates the Chinese government’s sincere wish to expand imports from the United States and to further develop bilateral trade and investment,” said Zengwei.

Vilsack noted the importance of China’s commitment to buy more U.S. soy.

“China will continue to be a key trading partner as agriculture contributes to President Obama’s goal of doubling total U.S. exports over the next five years,” Vilsack said at the ceremony.

Philip Q. Du of JGG America, Inc., a subsidiary of Jilin Grain Group, a Chinese importer that signed a commitment to purchase the equivalent of more than 18 million bushels with U.S. exporters, sees the signing as his company’s commitment to purchase U.S. soy due to its history as a reliable supplier of quality soybeans.

“Just as farmers sign contracts predicting their crop, we as buyers sign commitments predicting our purchases,” said Du. “The signing confirms our confidence in the stable supply of soybeans by U.S. producers.”

USB is made up of 68 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. Checkoff funds are invested in the areas of animal utilization, human utilization, industrial utilization, industry relations, market access and supply.

As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff.