AIR's crop team was selected to participate in a Scientific Cooperation Exchange Program run jointly by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and China's Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) by both the U.S. and Chinese governments because of our expertise in the U.S. and China crop insurance markets. Through our participation, we gained a deeper understanding of the various factors shaping China's crop insurance programs at the national level. We also learned about recent developments in key provinces from Chinese government representatives, who in turn sought to deepen their understanding of the U.S. crop insurance program with an eye toward streamlining China's program.
The AIR crop team members who participated were: George Davis, Senior Vice President; Heidi Wang, Senior Manager, Business Development; Oscar Vergara, Assistant Vice President; Jacqueline Chen, Senior Scientist; Peter Hayes, Senior Scientist; and Yizhong Qu, Director of AIR's Beijing office.
The team toured farms, greenhouses, and experimental stations raising all manner of crops, as well as a dairy farm and an organic, free-range chicken farm, enabling us to see firsthand Chinese agricultural and farming techniques. We also spent productive time with representatives from Beijing Normal University and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS).
When we met with government representatives of Beijing, and Heilongjiang, Shandong, and Guangdong Provinces, we found them keen to increase their knowledge of the U.S. crop insurance program. We gave presentations on our U.S. Multi-Peril Crop Insurance Model and explained how, in light of publicly available crop data in the U.S., the transparency of the program enables us to make yield forecasts and allows the crop insurance program to be more robust. If it were to release more data and there were a freer flow of high quality information, we explained, China could grow its crop program; we expect that more companies would want to invest in crop insurance there if transparency in China's yield numbers and claims process increased.
Our trip ended with a debriefing by the agricultural attaché at the U.S. embassy, who made clear how much the U.S. values this type of mission. We gained more helpful insights from the people we met during the trip than we can possibly describe here. Everyone we encountered was open to innovations and new ideas from the U.S., welcomed our opinions about their crop insurance program, and were receptive to change. All participants benefited from the open exchange of ideas, knowledge, and sound practices—a sure sign of the visit's success.