LINCOLN, NEBRASKA. – Corn Board member and district two representative, John Greer from Edgar, Nebraska recently had the unique opportunity to experience a global market in South America from both the eyes of a customer and competitor.
Greer was a member of the U.S. Grains Council’s (USGC) Grain Export Mission (GEM) that travelled to South America to observe local conditions, learn about trade opportunities and constraints and also meet with foreign customers eager for insight into U.S. production and export systems. Greer and his group visited Colombia and Brazil while another GEM group visited Argentina and Mexico.
“Traveling to South America was an exceptional opportunity to see the global market place at work”, said Greer. “After spending some time with buyers and end-users in Colombia, we were pleased to hear that the U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement has created significant market opportunities for U.S. corn and corn co-products.”
Colombia is the second largest corn importer in the Latin American region and a country in which the United States traditionally captured more than 80 percent of the market, though there had been erosion in U.S. market share due to unfavorable tariff treatment.
This year, Colombian buyers returned to purchasing U.S. corn, driven by price and advantages from the implementation of the free trade agreement. In fact, the country exceeded its tariff rate quota (TRQ) in June but still continued to purchase U.S. corn.
Greer’s team also visited Brazil, a critical competitor for U.S agricultural exports but a market that faces many challenges with infrastructure. Understanding the current reality and the future prospects of Brazil’s agricultural production is vital for U.S. farmers as they continue to export their commodities into the global marketplace.
“Colombia and Brazil are emerging economies that have remarkable global potential,” said Greer. “As they continue to work to overcome their security and infrastructure problems, I predict their grain and livestock industries will develop into even greater market prospects for American exports.”
At the completion of the mission, the two GEM groups met with USGC leadership and staff in Panama to debrief about their experience. Alan Tiemann, farmer from Seward, NE and at-large director on the NCB and vice chairman of the USGC, led many discussions with the GEM participants during their time in Panama. The participants concluded their mission with a tour of the Panama Canal, which gave them an opportunity to see first-hand the progress of the Panama Canal’s expansion project.
“The purpose of the GEM is for participants to gain a clearer understanding of the challenges, opportunities and competition we face in the international marketplace, said Tiemann. “The opportunity for American producers to personally communicate and establish relationships with these key end-users and buyers is an essential piece to our global success. With 95 percent of the world’s population living outside our borders, global awareness and connections are increasingly vital for everyone involved in agriculture.”