The visit was part of the U.S. Grains Council’s (USGC) efforts to develop long-term markets for U.S. coarse grains like sorghum.
A majority of the team’s members work for companies in the Mexican state of Jalisco, represented by the National Association of Food Manufacturers for Animal Consumption (ANFACA). Jalisco is the top-producing state for eggs, broilers, hogs, cattle and dairy. Two additional participants represented the Mexican Association of Specialists in Animal Production (AMEPA) from the states of Sonora and Michoacán.
“The council has worked with these two associations for a long time, making participants from their companies the best options for the Mexican sorghum team,” said Patricia Esqueda, USGC western Mexico marketing specialist, who accompanied the team. “Our goal was for these young leaders to establish direct relations with grain producers or cooperatives to become more efficient at importing grain from the United States.”
The council and partner organizations in the U.S. sorghum industry, including the United Sorghum Checkoff Program (USCP), organized the team to offer a farm-to-port learning experience of the U.S. grain production, marketing and transportation systems. The team visited farms in both states, cooperative facilities, an ethanol plant and port facilities.
Team members each found different stops on the trade team visit to their particular interest, including the production of catfish on a producer’s farm in Texas; the significant storage capacity at a cooperative in Kansas; the potential for containerized shipping from ports like Houston; and even meeting family members and business partners of their companies in Mexico.
“These young people are searching for how to improve their businesses with better technologies and to become more sustainable,” Esqueda said. “They are concerned about the environment and diversifying their businesses to become more efficient and more competitive. They are really looking to thrive — both as individuals and as their respective businesses.”
Historically speaking, Mexico has ranked as a top U.S. sorghum buyer. The dramatic demand for imports of U.S. sorghum by China in recent years subsequently reduced sorghum exports to Mexico. The council continues to maintain awareness of U.S. sorghum in Mexico and has promoted the development of direct sales with U.S. producers and cooperatives in areas of high demand for sorghum including Jalisco.
“This team commented about the efficiency needed to keep their companies strong and the importance of working together to achieve that goal,” Esqueda said. “Even as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is renegotiated, they are open to direct business with U.S. grain suppliers and look forward to continuing trade relations as a win-win deal for businesses on both sides of the border.”