Corn Communicators Talk Maizall in Argentina

ifaj13-cornCommunications directors of three major grain grower organizations in the United States were among those attending the IFAJ 2013 Congress in Argentina this week. It was the first time for Mindy Williamson with the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, Marri Carrow with U.S. Grains Council, and National Corn Growers Association Communications Director Ken Colombini to attend the international meeting of agricultural journalists.

“It don’t usually attend meetings like this but we really couldn’t let the opportunity pass by,” Ken said. “We came along to meet with ag journalists from all over the world to talk about issues, especially biotechnology, how their media operates in their countries, and get a sense of how we can communicate better in our partnership called Maizall with the Argentine and Brazilian corn growers.”Interview with Ken Colombini, NCGA

Iowa corn farmer Julius Schaef, chairman of the Grains Council, was recently elected to serve as the first president of the new alliance between North and South American corn growers. “Actually it was very much his idea to move forward with the Maizall alliance between the corn farmers,” said Marri, who noted that the executive team of Maizall was meeting this week in Panama to discuss plans for the group’s first trade mission this fall to Korea and China.Interview with Marri Carrow, USGC

On Thursday, following the conclusion of the IFAJ meeting, Mindy says the three of them had some Maizall meetings of their own set up in Argentina. “We actually have some meetings at the U.S. embassy,” she said. “We’re meeting with Argentina and Brazil.”Interview with Mindy Williamson, Iowa Corn

Ken, Marri and Mindy all talk about their impressions of the IFAJ Congress and what they saw and heard in Argentina.

2013 IFAJ Congress Photo Album

Coverage of the 2013 IFAJ Congress is sponsored by Novus International and Dupont Pioneer

MAIZALL Announces Board and Website

An organization uniting corn growers of North and South America has elected officers and unveiled a new website.

maizallThe International Maize Alliance (MAIZALL) was formed in May between the corn industries of the United States, Brazil and Argentina with the goal of addressing key issues concerning food security, biotechnology, stewardship, trade and producer image. MAIZALL is composed of MAIZAR, representing Argentina producers and the maize supply chain; ABRAMILHO (Brazilian Association of Corn Producers); the National Corn Growers Association, and the U.S. Grains Council.

Newly elected officers of MAIZALL are Julius Schaaf (United States), President; Sérgio Luis Bortolozzo (Brazil), 1st Vice President; Alberto Morelli (Argentina), 2nd Vice President. The MAIZALL board of directors is composed of three directors each from Argentina, Brazil, and the United States.

MAIZALL also announced its public website at The website will provide background information on MAIZALL, including the memorandum of understanding between the organizations; its Board of Directors and the major objectives.

North and South American Corn Growers Unite

As most agricultural eyes were on progress of the farm bill last week in Congress, some very prominent farmers were in another nation’s capitol below the equator signing a new agreement to create an alliance between North and South American corn growers.

maizeall-signLeaders of the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), joined with maize producers of Argentina and Brazil (MAIZAR and ABRAMILHO) to form MAIZALL—The International Maize Alliance with the goal of addressing key issues concerning food security, biotechnology, stewardship, trade and producer image. The MAIZALL alliance was launched as part of the MAIZAR 2013 Congress meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

“Food Security is a priority for every country,” said Pam Johnson, NCGA President. “Countries can be food secure without being self-sufficient by establishing relationships and building trust with exporting countries to be long-term, reliable suppliers of quality feed and food supplies.”

The primary focus of this new alliance is emphasize the need for better consumer understanding of production agriculture, including the benefits of biotechnology and advancing the global acceptance on the capacity to produce maize for feed, food and fuel. MAIZALL will also conduct outreach to governments and stakeholders on the need for trade-enabling biotechnology policies and regulatory procedures.

Read more from USGC and see a set of photos here.

Farm Bill’s Effect On US Grains

You may believe the farm bill doesn’t effect you, but you might be surprised to find out that it covers more than you think. It was a hot topic during National Association of Farm Broadcasting’s Trade Talk. While sitting down with U.S. Grains Council’s President and CEO, Tom Sleight, I was reminded how intricate this farm bill is.

“It’s an interesting dilemma for us. The farm bill is not well known and one reason to get the farm bill moving. Public/private partnerships between US Grains Council take checkoff dollars and match that with business contributions. Thats matched again by USDA funding. That USDA funding was no longer authorized when the farm bill lapsed on October 1. So, we are working very closely with USDA to keep our offices open as long as we can. If the farm bill doesn’t get passed we might be forced with furlowing employees and closing offices come sometime in February.”

Tom said we need to talk more openly about the importance of trade to US agriculture. Many people don’t realize this public/private partnership funding is included in the farm bill.

The US Grains Council is partnered with 29 different checkoff entities for corn, sorghum and barley throughout the United States. But also with around 100 agribusinesses and grain exporting companies. These groups all have the common interest of making trade work around the world.

Listen to my complete interview with Tom here: Tom Sleight - US Grains Council

2012 NAFB Convention Photo Album

Sleight Selected as USGC President and CEO

The U.S. Grains Council announced the selection of Thomas N. Sleight as president and CEO to replace the retiring Thomas C. Dorr. Sleight initially joined the Council in 1983 and has served in multiple capacities both in Washington, D.C., headquarters and overseas. After leaving for stints with other agricultural organizations, he returned to the Council in November 2010 as vice president of operations and membership. Sleight’s cumulative service with the Council spans 18 years and includes successful assignments in program operations in the Washington, D.C., office, international program direction in the field, communications, membership and administrative functions.

“The Council is expanding its reach and focusing on new priorities and strategic direction set by the Board of Directors,” said Sleight. “We have made great progress in recent years and I look forward to continuing to create value for U.S. producers and agribusinesses.”

Meeting Growing Export Demand

At the recent NAMA Trends in Agriculture conference one of our panel discussions featured Tom Dorr, U.S. Grains Council. The panel topic was “Meeting the Growing Demand for Exports for Trade.” Thanks to Paulsen Marketing for supplying this video clip with Tom.

Much of American agriculture is dependent on international trade. What does this mean for the future if the ag industry in our country? NAMA Trends in Agriculture explored that issue with a panel that included Tom Dorr, the President and CEO of the U.S. Grains Council. Dorr shared his thoughts on what solid export policy for the U.S. should look like.

Reaction to USDA Crop Forecast

usdaBoth corn and soybean production for this year were cut in this month’s crop report out this morning from USDA. Corn production is forecast at 12.7 billion bushels, down 4 percent from the September forecast and down 3 percent from last year’s record production of 13.1 billion bushels. Soybean production is forecast at a record high 3.41 billion bushels, down 2 percent from September but 1 percent above last year.

The industry was expecting the corn forecast to be lowered, but it was the amount of the decrease that caught the industry by surprise, according to John Anderson, an economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation.

“This is a pretty sizable drop in production,” Anderson said. “We saw a really big drop in USDA’s forecasted average yield for corn because of adverse weather in the big corn states of Illinois, Iowa and Indiana. USDA is forecasting a national average yield of 155.8 bushels per acre, compared to 162.5 bushels per acre in September’s report. A 6.7 bushel drop in yield is pretty significant.”

On the Minneapolis Grain Exchange monthly conference call featuring commentary on the USDA report, Peter Georgantones from ITS also expressed surprise at the new forecast, predicting it will lead to $6.00/bu corn, “pretty easily now.” Market reaction was definitely higher on Friday with December corn closing up 30 cents at $5.28 a bushel, the highest in over two years.

tom dorrThe latest supply-demand numbers reflecting the new forecast show a decrease in stocks, increase in feed use, decrease in exports and ethanol about the same. At a seminar in Chicago promoting exports of the ethanol by-product distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS), U.S. Grains Council President and CEO Tom Dorr was not too concerned about the report. “I’ve been a farmer most of my life and the thing that I know is that farmers more often than not, swim in surpluses, they love dealing with shortfalls and they’ll produce our way out of this very quickly,” Dorr said.

Increased use of corn for ethanol has created more than 30 million metric tons of DDGS, a high-value feed product for domestic and international livestock producers. Initial 2010 export projections of 6.2 million tons of DDGS will be surpassed this calendar year as the United States gears up to export approximately 8 million tons.

Listen to or download an interview that Chuck did with Dorr reacting to the report today: Tom Dorr Interview

Connecting International Buyers With U.S. Producers

After leaving the NAMA Trends in Agriculture conference I headed on down the agriblogging highway to another conference of importance to U.S. grain producers. This is the Export Exchange 2010 which got off to an official and social start this evening with welcoming remarks from U.S. Grains Council President/CEO Tom Dorr (left) and Renewable Fuels Association President/CEO Bob Dinneen.

The conference is focused on connecting international buyers of DDGS and coarse grains with the U.S. market. I don’t know what the attendance totals are here but we had a full room for the welcoming reception. During the next couple days I’ll have interviews and presentations posted mostly on Domestic from the event.

You can listen to Tom’s opening remarks here: Tom Dorr Remarks

You can listen to Bob’s opening remarks here: Bob Dinneen Remarks

I’m also posting into an online photo album: Export Exchange 2010 Photo Album

Register for Export Exchange 2010 Before It’s Too Late

Export Exchange 2010 is 10 days away but it’s not too late to register. You have two days to take advantage of pre-registration for the event which will connect DDGs (dried distillers grains) and course grain buyers with domestic sellers. Export Exchange is being held in Chicago and will be the place to get answers, make contacts and build your business. Conference attendees will learn from international leaders about current opportunity and constraints surrounding the export of U.S. DDGs and course grains, both of which are growing each month.

In addition, breakout sessions will cover contracting and risk management. coarse grain production, supply and demand, DDGs shipping, handling and contracting, and the use of DDGs in livestock industries.

Export Exchange is co-sponsored by the U.S. Grains Council and the Renewable Fuels Association. The event will bring together more than 170 international buyers of U.S. DDGS and coarse grains with hundreds of U.S. producers and agribusinesses. Click here to register before it’s too late.

Interact With International Grains Buyers

usgcOne of my upcoming stops on the agriblogging highway will be the U.S. Grains Council and Renewable Fuels Assocation, Export Exchange. The event is taking place October 6-8 in Chicago, IL. If you’re in the grains business, especially dealing with DDGS then this is the place to meet with international buyers. I spoke with USGC CEO Tom Dorr about the event. He says that there will be more than 150 international buyers networking with over 300 U.S. producers and others involved in the industry. He says it’s a continuation of a series of programs that began about four years ago.

The program is designed to allow people to make connections and better understand the product. This is the first time the Grains Council has had a sponsor like the RFA. Another new thing this year is a focus on the coarse grains markets due to the global demand growth which has stimulated DDGS exports. Tom says those exports have grown from near zero in 2004 to over 6 million tons for 2009 and they’re growing.

You can listen to my interview with Tom here: Tom Dorr Interview

The Export Exchange 2010 is uniquely focused on connecting international buyers of DDGS and coarse grains with the U.S. market. The Council is providing sponsorship for the attendance of targeted international trade teams from more than 25 countries. These participants represent nearly 80 percent of the global export market for DDGS and coarse grains. The conference will address critical issues facing U.S. exports and seek to educate and build awareness of U.S. DDGS and coarse grains among international buyers.

Here are some resource links:


Distillers Grains Export Opportunities

Distillers grains exports are climbing to new heights.

Exports of the ethanol co-product distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) hit a new record in July of 886,300 metric tons – which is more than was exported in the entire year in 2004. Total exports this year so far are 4.95 million metric tons, getting close to the total last year of 5.65 million.

Geoff Cooper, VP of Research with the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), says 2005 was really the first year that DDGS exports started to take off. “2005 was the first year that we exported more than one million metric tons and the growth has been very rapid since then,” Cooper said. This year, the U.S. ethanol industry is on pace to export 8.5 million metric tons of DDGS, or about 28% of expected total DDGS production.

One third of the nation’s ethanol production ends up as DDGS, a high quality animal feed which can be used for everything from cattle to fish, and livestock producers in other countries have been quick to see the advantages of feeding the protein rich product to their animals. Cooper says the U.S. Grains Council (USGC), along with other companies and organizations, have been promoting those advantages to help exports grow.

“Education is what’s going to sell your product,” said Cooper. “And we are seeing the fruits of that work in dramatically increased exports.”

Listen to or download my interview with Geoff Cooper here: Geoff Cooper Interview

USGC and RFA are sponsoring a conference to grow the export opportunities for DDGS. The Export Exchange is being held October 6-8 at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place Hotel in Chicago, Ill. More information and registration is available on-line here.

Register for Export Exchange

Registration is now open for the Export Exchange 2010, an international trade conference focused around the export of U.S. coarse grains and the ethanol co-product distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS).

usgcThe event is co-sponsored by the Renewable Fuels Association and the U.S. Grains Council and will bring together more than 150 international buyers of U.S. DDGS and coarse grains with more than 300 U.S. producers and agribusinesses. “We are excited to have the Renewable Fuels Association co-sponsor the Export Exchange 2010,” said USGC President and CEO Thomas C. Dorr. “The burgeoning world population is demanding more meat, milk and eggs. U.S. DDGS and coarse grains continue to play an important role in livestock and poultry feed rations globally. We have to educate and connect our buyers and sellers to continue to grow vital markets for the United States.”

The conference will be held on Oct. 6-8, 2010, at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place Hotel in Chicago, Ill. Registration information is available here.

Grains Council Elects New Officers for Golden Anniversary

The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) is moving into its second half century with a brand new slate of officers and directors.

usgcAt the U.S. Grains Council’s 50th Annual Board of Delegates meeting in Boston this week, Terry Vinduska, a corn farmer representing the Kansas Corn Commission, was elected chairman for the 2010-2011 fiscal year.

Other officers elected include Wendell Shauman, representing Illinois Corn Marketing Board, as vice chairman; Don Fast, representing Montana Wheat & Barley Committee, as treasurer; and Julius Schaaf, representing Iowa Corn Promotion Board, as secretary.

Alan Tiemann, of the Nebraska Corn Board, was re-elected to the Council’s Board of Directors. Newly elected Board members include James Tobin of Monsanto; Bill Kubecka of United Sorghum Checkoff Program; and Jere White of Kansas Corn Commission.

Thomas C. Dorr, USGC president and CEO, said, “As the U.S. Grains Council begins its 51st year, we are fortunate to have strong, active leadership in place. Our new chairman, Mr. Vinduska, the Board of Directors, Board of Delegates, A-Team leaders and state liaisons provide excellent insight into the challenges and opportunities in the international market arena. The Council’s success over its first five decades is attributable to a long tradition of farmer and agribusiness leadership that’s determined to see the Council succeed.”

Many representatives from the National Corn Growers Association attended the meeting this week to congratulate the Council for 50 years of helping to increase export opportunities for U.S. grain producers. “We’re proud of the work the Grains Council has accomplished in its history, and we are proud to share several common founding members,” said NCGA President Darrin Ihnen. “We are working to build on our half-century history of collaboration so that we can continue to serve the country’s corn farmers to the best of our abilities.”

NCGA is a founding member of USGC and works cooperatively with their export promotion efforts.

USGC Streaming Live From Japan

I am so proud of Marri Carrow, U.S. Grains Council, who is streaming live from Japan as I write this post. We had a very short phone walk through of right before she left and she got it. Well done. I think we’ll see more groups using this great tool. I think I hear her snapping photos too! I’m sure we’ll see them appear in the USGC Flickr account.

Representatives from the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Farm Bureau and the U.S. Grains Council gathered in Japan this week for a series of site visits, business meetings and to participate in the Partners-in-Agriculture events. For more than 50 years, the United States and Japan have enjoyed a partnership that has yielded more than $280 billion in sales of U.S. food and agricultural products to Japan, creating a relationship that has helped cater to the needs of Japanese consumers while fueling the U.S. economy.

The feed looks and sounds great. She’s also there with good friend, Sally Behringer, Nicholson Kovac. I knew that since one of the speakers mentioned her name.

Nicholson Kovac Selected By USGC For Public Relations Campaign

Nicholson Kovac has been selected by the U.S. Grains Council as its integrated marketing communications agency for their 2010 “Partners in Agriculture” international public relations campaign.

Nicholson Kovac will provide public relations services, including media relations and event coordination, for a series of commemorative events that will take place in Japan in 2010. These events, part of the “Partners in Agriculture” series of events, will be coordinated by the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), of the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), with the U.S. Grains Council and other cooperative groups as key sponsoring partners. The program celebrates the rich history of agricultural trade between the United States and Japan, the largest foreign market for U.S. coarse grains.

To ensure seamless coordination between the USGC headquarters in Washington, D.C., USGC employees in Japan and Tokyo-based FAS representatives, Nicholson Kovac has teamed up with the Ashai Agency, a leading integrated marketing communications agency in Japan. Both Nicholson Kovac and Asahi belong to Worldwide Partners, Inc., the world’s largest owner-operated agency network made up of 90 independent agencies.

“Nicholson Kovac provided us the most creative proposal for addressing the complexities of this project. We anticipate this partnership will help to enhance the effectiveness of our efforts,” said Thomas C. Dorr, president and CEO of the U.S. Grains Council.

Grains Council Opens Office in Panama

USGCU.S. Grains Council has officially opened a new international office in Panama City, Panama to serve Latin America and the Caribbean Region.

USGC Chairman Rick Fruth commented, “By establishing an office in Latin America and the Caribbean region, the Council is strategically positioning itself to defend U.S. markets while simultaneously enhancing the quality of life of our trading partners.”

Kurt Shultz (far left in the photo) was named the first director of the Panama City office. Shultz has worked for the Council since 1999 and previously served for seven years as USGC regional director for the Mediterranean and Africa before transitioning to his current post.

In addition to its new office in Panama, the U.S. Grains Council has international offices in nine other countries, including China, Egypt, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Taiwan, Tunisia and Jordan. See more photos of the grand opening here on the USGC’s Flickr photo album.

U.S. Grains Council Announces Global Food Security Symposium

The U.S. Grains Council (USGC ) made a significant announcement during a press conference at Commodity Classic last week with the announcement of key speakers for the upcoming Global Food Security Symposium, which is sponsored by the organization. USGC Chairman Rick Fruth confirmed that U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is expected to deliver the keynote address at the symposium, scheduled for April 7, 2010, in Tokyo, Japan. This announcement came shortly after the Global Food Security Symposium was formally introduced in Tokyo by USGC President and CEO Thomas C. Dorr and U.S. Ambassador to Japan John V. Roos.

The Symposium will gather U.S. and Japanese government, agribusiness and biotechnology leaders for a first-ever, day-long examination of how international cooperation, policy and technology can be used to feed a burgeoning world population. More specifically, Fruth said, “The key points of discussion will be, how to leverage biotechnology and other emerging technologies to improve the quality of life and global economy, how the world’s economic powers can harness these technologies for the benefits of developing countries around the world and how can we build upon this these past successes to increase food security around the world.”

Fruth also noted that sustainability and biotechnology are an inherent part of this symposium as you can’t have global food security without using biotechnology or develop new technologies that are not sustainable.

The Symposium is part of the “Partners in Agriculture” series of events being held throughout Japan from March through May of 2010. The “Partners in Agriculture” events celebrate the successful, enduring agricultural trade partnership between the United States and Japan. This event goes hand-in-hand with the mission of USGC which is to develop overseas markets for U.S. corn, barley and sorghum and enbable trade around the world for these commodities.

You can listen to the announcement below.

Commodity Classic Photo Album

AgWired coverage of the 2010 Commodity Classic
is sponsored by: BASF and New Holland

Need For More Exports

USGC International Marketing ConferenceThe new U.S. Grains Council senior vice president of operations and industry relations is Keith Heffernan, pictured in the middle here. He was chief of staff for the Farm Credit Administration. Keith was also the first executive director for the Iowa Corn Growers Association; director of public affairs for the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation; assistant director for the Center of Agricultural and Rural Development at Iowa State University; and chief of staff for USDA’s Rural Development. In other words, he’s got a lot of qualifications to work in this new position.

I spoke with Keith here at the International Marketing Conference. He says participation is good and there’s a lot of excitement about exports. Looking forward he says there will be more attention and need for attention on exports.

USGC International Marketing Conference Photo Album

You can listen to my interview with Keith below.

International Grain Marketing Overview

USGC International Marketing ConferenceHere at the International Marketing Conference and Membership Meeting of the U.S. Grains Council we received an international program overview which consisted of presentations from various country directors. Seen here is Dr. Hussein Soliman, Egypt Director.

Each presenter gave an overview of their region, the projects they’re working on and the outlook for the future.

I have recorded their presentations for you so that you may listen to them or download.

Download Global Coarse Grain Outlook – Erick Erickson, USGC Special Assistant for Planning, Evaluation and Projects (mp3) or just listen:

Listen to

Download ROW Program Summary – Chris Corry, USGC Senior Director of International Operations for Rest of the World (mp3) or just listen:

Listen to

Download Addressing Market Competition – Dr. Hussein Soliman, USGC Director in Egypt (mp3) or just listen:

Listen to

Download Update on Latin America and the Caribbean Region – Kurt Shultz, USGC Director in Latin America and the Caribbean Region (mp3) or just listen:

Listen to

Download Asia Program Overview – Mike Callahan, USGC Senior Director of International Operations for Asia (mp3) or just listen:

Listen to

Download Building The Engines That Drive Demand – Cary Sifferath, USGC Senior Director in China (mp3) or just listen:

Listen to

Download Outlook: Competition – Adel Yusupov, USGC Regional Direction in Southeast Asia (mp3) or just listen:

Listen to

USGC International Marketing Conference Photo Album

Carole Brookins Keynotes USGC Conference

USGC International Marketing ConferenceThe Hon. Carole L. Brookins, Managing Director of Public Capital Advisors, LLC, gave the keynote speech at 7th International Marketing Conference in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Her presentation is filled with facts, figures and her personal outlook on the future. She brought the group a unique perspective about how we may not agree with a lot of what is happening on issues like climate change but there are considerations that we should be making that include ways to profit in spite of them.

She summarizes challenges facing the industry that include energy security movements, groups pushing consumers to a vegetarian diet, consumer perception that food is bad and more. So from one of her slides she offered the following:

Where Do We Go From Here?

• Re‐balancing the global axis of power and markets
• Re‐inventing energy and technology that Runs our world
• Restructuring production and markets for the food we eat, where we produce it, who controls it and how it is traded.

Both Your Risk and Reward will be Multiplied. Your Complexity of Choices and Competition will be Magnified.

You can watch or listen to her full presentation:

USGC International Marketing Conference Photo Album

You can also listen to Carole’s remarks here: