WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. - Grain buyers from 37 countries are in the United States this month participating in trade team visits to states in the Midwest and participating in Export Exchange – Oct. 22-24 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Export Exchange is a biennial educational and trade forum for U.S. feed grains that will host approximately 200 international buyers and end-users organized into 21 USGC trade teams. The biennial conference is sponsored by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC), the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and Growth Energy.

“At a time when we have just agreed to a new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, highlighting the importance of international trade can be no better illustrated than by Export Exchange and the trade team visits before and after the event,” said Tom Sleight, USGC president and chief executive officer (CEO). “It is essential for us to strengthen the bonds between suppliers and partner countries, and the connections made at this critical event will not only help propel our industry this year, but for years to come.”

The pre- and post-event tours include three teams from Mexico – two visiting states before Export Exchange and one visiting after the event concludes. Each team will meet with personnel from buying groups, trading companies and feed mills in Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kentucky and Iowa. Each team will see firsthand U.S. corn, sorghum and distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) production and supply as well as assess current crop conditions during their stops.

“The buyers coming on this year’s Mexico teams are interested in learning more about all U.S. grains and their co-products,” said Ryan LeGrand, USGC Mexico director. “Increased promotion of these commodities in Mexico is expected to expand market opportunities as customers look for ways to improve food and fuel production.”

Like Mexico, another area of considerable growth for U.S. feed grains imports is Southeast Asia. A trade team interested in corn and DDGS from Vietnam will visit Illinois after participating in Export Exchange.

“Vietnamese buyers have continued to increase their purchases of corn and DDGS since the government lifted its suspension of DDGS imports and eased its fumigation requirements for U.S. corn imports in 2017,” said Manuel Sanchez, USGC regional director for Southeast Asia. “It is a great opportunity for these feed grain importers and end-users to engage with U.S. sellers directly.”

While in Illinois, the Vietnamese party will engage in specialized crop tours of the 2018 corn harvest, as well as visit an ethanol plant and trans-loading facility.

“The council has provided opportunities for Southeast Asian grain importers to visit trans-loading facilities in the past, as a means of increasing their knowledge of how freight works,” Sanchez said. “These types of specialized visits will allow this team to see firsthand U.S. crop conditions at harvest time, which helps result in trade.”

The Vietnam trade team is only one part of a larger effort by the USGC to link high-profile executives and decision makers from Southeast Asia to U.S. suppliers of grain products.

The USGC is sponsoring five trade teams from Southeast Asia – with delegates from Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and the Philippines, in addition to Vietnam. Approximately 65 Southeast Asian participants are expected to visit in various states either before or after the meeting in Minneapolis.

With Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development funding through the U.S. Farm Bill, the USGC works globally to increase demand for feed grains and related products among livestock and poultry producers, feed millers and other customers around the world and conducts programming that focuses on technical proficiency and customer knowledge of U.S. marketing systems as well as overall quality.