Tag Archives: US Grains Council

There are no rearview mirrors on the motorbikes in Ho Chi Minh City, as the saying goes, implying the Vietnamese people never look backward, but stay focused on the future.

That can-do, progressive attitude has established Vietnam as one of the fastest growing feed markets in the world with attendant increases in demand for meat, milk and eggs from a middle class growing in number and influence.

An on-the-ground presence is extremely important in Vietnam, where government policies and market situations can change quickly. Caleb Wurth, U.S. Grains Council (USGC) assistant director for Southeast Asia, recently spent three weeks traveling throughout the country to assess the impact of African Swine Fever (ASF) virus on local swine production and overall feed demand for corn and dried distiller’s grains with solubles (DDGS) as well as inform the Council’s overall strategic approach.

Wurth discovered Vietnamese producers are wasting no time in retooling their operations as the virus has affected a large portion of their swine herds. He observed farmers culling herd and clearing barns to make them ready for layers, broilers or ducks in the same space the next week. Farmers are also expanding into aquaculture – in both freshwater ponds in the delta region and offshore in cages along the coast.

“The extensive losses in swine production are being partially offset by increases in poultry and off-shore cage aquaculture,” Wurth said. “In response, the Council has begun working with local feed mills and DDGS importers to assist farms devastated by ASF to switch to poultry, layer or duck farming rather than give up meat production altogether.”

If an effective vaccine is discovered, however, the Council expects to see farmers revert to a similar pre-ASF protein mix, reinforcing the need to maintain both long-term efforts – like working to increase DDGS inclusion rates – and frontier market work – including hiring a full-time aquaculture specialist for the region through funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Trade Promotion (USDA’s ATP) program. Both pieces are necessary to successfully pivot alongside animal industries in Vietnam and throughout Southeast Asia.

“Vietnam is just one of the markets in Southeast Asia with tremendous potential,” Wurth said. “As programming pivots to address shifting market demands, the Council will continue to leverage the success of its programs, people and partnerships to cultivate significant sales of U.S. feed grains, ethanol and co-products.”

In less than a decade, Vietnam has grown from a top 10 to a top three corn importer in the world. The country is a significant importer of both U.S. corn and DDGS with additional future potential for U.S. sorghum. That same rising middle class is also creating additional demand for ethanol, aided by a nationwide E5 blend mandate expected to grow to E10.

These factors combine to make Vietnam a focus of the Council’s work to capture increasing demand for feed grains and ethanol export volumes for U.S. farmers and agribusinesses in Southeast Asia.

David Gibson has spent a lifetime working in agriculture, from raising and racing quarter horses to his current position as the executive director of Texas Corn Producers. The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) recognized Gibson for 20 years of service in this role during the organization’s 59th Annual Board of Delegates Meeting this week in Cincinnati, Ohio.

“I’ve worn many hats throughout my professional career, yet kept a tie to agriculture through it all,” Gibson said. “From my days as an extension agent to managing my region’s grain elevator, I now have 20 years of service – and counting – with Texas Corn Producers.

“What I appreciate about the Council is that it’s a producer-led organization, where producers and staff from across the nation work together to achieve common goals. At the end of the day, we’ve got to remember our work is for the hardworking agricultural producers that are the lifeblood of our economy.”

Gibson has worked to increase the presence of his board members in the Council, doubling participation at Council meetings, on USGC Advisory Teams (A-teams) and on trade missions. Within Texas, he has worked to directly connect his producers with their customers overseas by coordinating trade team visits.

“My most rewarding experiences have been setting up a variety of trade team visits to the state,” Gibson said. “When teams come to Texas, they have the opportunity to gain a broader perspective of the intricacies of the agricultural industry – from the corn field to feedlots and dairies to ethanol plants and even to one of the busiest ports in the country.”

Gibson recalled members from a team whose home country’s animal health regulations differed vastly from the U.S. system. He said it was interesting to see the team gain firsthand experience with the high level of care and requirements the United States places on securing the wellbeing of livestock.

The Council’s work to open, maintain and expand markets through activities like trade teams and advocating for market access is highly visible in Texas, where farmers can deliver grain to elevators on the border or direct to port facilities for other international destinations.

“To me, the overarching purpose of the Council is to build world demand for grains and keep the doors open to all our trading partners,” Gibson said. “The work of the Council is of the utmost importance to our producers, especially in the southern portion of Texas, as many market directly into Mexico.

“When the Mexican trade market is open and operating at a steady pace, our Texas farmers benefit from our checkoff’s and association’s ongoing support of the Council working to keep these markets open.”

When he is not hard at work on behalf of Texas corn farmers, Gibson said to look for him managing cattle or enjoying time with his six grandchildren.

Please join the Council in thanking Gibson for 20 years of service!

 Set amid a backdrop of record-breaking weather-related delays, narrow margins and continued geopolitical uncertainty, the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) opened its summer annual meeting Monday in Cincinnati by examining major short-term and long-term market trends for U.S. feed grains and the future of the organization’s market development work.

The 59th Annual Board of Delegates Meeting began on an expectant note with USGC Chairman Jim Stitzlein formally introducing USGC President and CEO Ryan LeGrand to the organization’s membership. LeGrand – who came to his new role in June from leading the Council’s Mexico office – expressed his measured enthusiasm about the Council’s role in finding new and more robust markets for U.S. grains with a $20 million allocation from the Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP) program.

“We clearly have challenging days ahead of us, but we also have a number of bright spots that make it an equally exciting time to be an advocate for trade of U.S. corn, sorghum, barley, DDGS and ethanol,” LeGrand said.

“We’ve had to learn to be nimble as markets change and grow, and we will need to meet this challenge continually as markets we work with will change even faster in the future. And that’s what I envision the Council doing with the help of our staff around the world, our valued members, our friends and allies at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service and the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office.”

Ron Dulin, a consultant from Euromonitor International, and Ken Smithmier, director of market research for agricultural markets at ClipperData, gave keynotes overviewing trends in the marketplace of today and population growth that will drive future markets.

Dulin spoke on Euromonitor’s research into “megacities,” which will dominate economic growth and grain demands over the next 10 years. He explained that the vast majority of megacities are in the developing world, including in China and India, and that future food and energy demand will be driven in these areas of high population seeing rapidly increasing food consumption and need for better air quality.

Smithmier shared his firm’s research about global grain flows and how weather and intervening market forces will cause short-term and long-term effects with respect to agricultural products, namely grains and ethanol. Smithmier reviewed the seasonal and cyclical fluctuations of the global grain market as well as factors that could impact U.S. competitiveness including ongoing trade policy negotiations, changing fuel standards for ocean-going ships and infrastructure development in South America.

In the afternoon, attendees spent time in one or more of seven Advisory Team (A-Team) meetings. Each A-Team has a specific focus – including Asia, Ethanol, Innovation and Sustainability, Middle East/Africa, Trade Policy, Value-Added and Western Hemisphere – allowing members the chance to offer input and set priorities to determine the Council’s course of action over the coming year.

On Tuesday, Council programming is scheduled to focus on emerging markets for U.S. grains and ethanol, with the Cincinnati meetings culminating on Wednesday with the Council’s Board of Delegates meeting, appointment of A-Team leaders and election of a new board of directors.

More from the meeting is available on social media, using the hashtag #grains19.