GREENVILLE, SOUTH CAROLINA, US — Members of the US Grains Council (USGC) are arriving in Greenville, South Carolina, US, for the organization’s winter meeting this week, where they will concentrate on drivers of global demand including trade policy, the status of China trade relations and global shipping before heading into business and strategy sessions focused on ways to keep markets open and grain flowing around the world.

“While we will hear from top-notch speakers who will orient us to the state of our industry and offer us touchpoints around the world that will help inform our work this week, it’s important that we take that guidance as we enter more than nine hours of Advisory Team meetings to offer recommendations for the Council’s direction to help meet its objectives of developing markets, enabling trade and improving lives,” said USGC Chairman Chad Willis, a farmer from Minnesota.

The first general session will include a recorded message from US Trade Representative Katherine Tai. Other Monday speakers will include Jason Hafemeister, USDA’s acting deputy undersecretary for trade and foreign affairs; Sharon Yuan, president of the Asia Group; Bill Rooney, vice president of strategic development for Kuehne & Nagel; and John Lummus, president and chief executive officer of the Upstate SC Alliance.

These presenters will set the stage for member discussions on Monday afternoon and Tuesday in topical committees known as Advisory Teams (A-Teams) and sector meetings.

The Council’s winter meeting is the annual opportunity for corn, sorghum and barley farmers and members of agribusiness, who make up the organization’s membership, to meet with their international staff who work in dozens of locations globally on trade policy and market development issues. The perspectives they offer during this meeting, combined with input from A-Team members help chart the course for the Council in the near term.

“The direction offered by both our international directors, our colleagues in our national headquarters and our industry partners during this important meeting will help the Council grow global markets around the world for US corn, sorghum barley and co-products.”

 On Wednesday during the annual Board of Delegates meeting, Council members will hear from Dr. Gary Williams, professor of agricultural economics, retired, at Texas A&M University, about the economic impact of the Agricultural Trade Promotion program and other USDA market development programs, and Mark Slupek USDA Foreign Agricultural Service’s deputy administrator of global programs, who will offer an overview of agricultural foreign market development funding.