(Posted Thu. Feb 12th, 2015)

U.S. Grains Council delegates provided powerful feedback into the Council’s decision-making process and priorities for 2015 and beyond at meetings this week in Heredia, Costa Rica. The meeting included many corn growers and top leadership from the National Corn Growers Association.


Bringing together the Council’s producer and agribusiness members with its global staff and consultants, the purpose of the meeting was program evaluation, assessment of changing market opportunities and review of the annual Unified Export Strategy (UES), the Council’s official work plan for the upcoming year. 


This week’s sessions during the 12th International Marketing Conference and 55th Annual Membership Meeting were uniquely formatted to generate discussions between USGC membership and staff. New additions to the meeting were broad commodity breakout sessions designed to bring the entire corn, sorghum and barley value chains into a robust discussion of shared opportunities. Members from state checkoffs, agribusinesses and other organizations also met with USGC staff during Advisory Team (A-Team) meetings focused on topics including trade policy, biotechnology, value-added opportunities and ethanol and regions including Asia, the Middle East and Africa and the Western Hemisphere.


Hot topics included the surge in U.S. sorghum exports to China; dramatically increased market share for U.S. grains and co-products in Colombia and Egypt; and the effect domestic infrastructure and policies have on export opportunities.


Priorities laid out in both the breakouts and A-Team sessions included continuing to develop with the ethanol industry a new global ethanol export initiative; encouraging the implementation of policies to manage low-level presence (LLP) of biotech traits to enable trade; and tapping the accelerating growth of demand for high quality proteins in India.


“Our members are the backbone of the Council,” said Ron Gray, USGC chairman and a farmer from Illinois. “Between our international staff being present to help guide discussions about their markets and members who are invested in our programs, we were able to creatively converse about Council programs and initiatives.


“These discussions will impact the Council’s course for 2015 and beyond. We always value our member feedback, and this meeting helped us gain insight into the future direction of the Council.”