WASHINGTON, DC, US — The US Grains Council (USGC) met virtually for its 60th annual meeting to help US grain sectors navigate issues impacting the industry in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the challenges ahead.

“At this virtual meeting, we gather to discuss issues facing our industry and explore future demand,” said Darren Armstrong, president of the USGC. “While the current domestic demand situation is challenging, the export outlook has bright spots to share, and I’m happy to report that corn, sorghum, barley, co-products and ethanol are still moving to our partners overseas.”

David Kohl, president of AgriVisions, an agriculture consulting business, and professor emeritus at Virginia Tech, offered insight on how COVID-19 is impacting the commodities market and what possible outcomes the future may hold.

“There are a few things that should be on the grain industry’s radar — the economic health of the protein sector and our trading partners, the weather, the value of the US dollar and consumer trends,” Kohl said. “Our business model of the future relies on us to be resilient, agile, entrepreneurial and with a strong business IQ. We must find ways to manage the controllable elements and continue to manage around the uncontrollable elements during this time.”

Another speaker, Arlan Suderman, chief commodities economist for StoneX Group, delved into global macro-economic trends and how it is negatively impacting the ethanol industry. Suderman also assessed global commodity markets and the progression of the US-China phase one trade agreement.

Day two of the annual meeting is set to include a board of delegates meeting to conduct USGC business, hold elections for various open leadership positions and hear from Ryan LeGrand, president and chief executive officer of the USGC, as well as outgoing and incoming chairmen, Armstrong and Jim Raben, respectively.

USGC staff members from the council’s overseas offices will be available in the afternoon of day two for questions and answers in the informal “Connecting with your global staff” session.

The last day of the meeting will end with virtual advisory team meetings in the morning and a closing general session in the afternoon. Ambassador Craig Allen, president of the US – China Business Council, will speak on the state of the US-China trade relationship, and former Assistant US Trade Representative Sharon Bomer Lauritsen will share an update on agricultural trade policy opportunities and challenges.

“Throughout this extraordinary time, US farmers have never stopped working and neither has the US Grains Council,” Armstrong said. “Because of our presence in markets around the world, we anticipated the challenges and we’ve been able to shift our operations to ensure US grain farmers and agribusinesses can continue to provide what our customers need. As we look forward and continue to adjust to emerging circumstances, we appreciate the deep engagement of our farmer and agribusiness members.”

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