WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — U.S. Grains Council (USGC) Chairman Julius Schaaf announced on Aug. 15 the completion of the new Advisory Team (A-Team) membership for 2013-14.

"The A-Teams are the backbone of member involvement in the council," Schaaf said. "From reviewing the United Export Strategy (UES) and recommending policy to providing feedback to the officers and guidance to staff, the A-Teams are the key to keeping the council's global activity rooted in member concerns and priorities."

A-Team members and leaders are appointed by the chairman. This year, the council's A-Team structure expands from six to seven, with the Rest of the World (ROW) A-Team splitting into two new A-Teams for the Middle East/Africa and the Western Hemisphere. The split is designed to give tighter focus on and more in-depth attention to two of the world's fastest changing markets.

"With the rise of Argentina and Brazil as competitors, and the formation of the MAIZALL alliance, the Americas have become a renewed priority," said Western Hemisphere A-Team leader Bill Christ. "It's definitely not business as usual. We will have to fight to defend our traditional Central and South American markets, while looking for common ground on food security, market access and biotech regulation with the major South American exporters as well."

Phil McCoun, the new Middle East/Africa A-Team leader, also focused on a rapidly changing market. 

"In both North Africa and the Middle East, Ukraine has emerged as a dominant regional competitor. Looking south, however, we are starting to explore future opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa,” he said. “This is not a major market now, nor will it probably be in the near future, but it's our job to look to where markets may emerge 10 years or more into the future. Africa has some areas that are beginning to move, and we want to help them grow."

The seven A-Teams with the A-Team leaders for 2013-14 are:
•Asia — Dick Gallagher, Iowa Corn Promotion Board
•Biotechnology — Jim Steuver, Missouri Corn Growers Association
•Membership and Communications — Rex Martin, Syngenta
•Middle East/Africa — Phillip McCoun, Kentucky Corn Promotion Council
•Trade Policy — Steve Brody, DuPont Pioneer
•Value-Added — Brian Arnold, DeLong Co., Inc.
•Western Hemisphere — Bill Christ, Illinois Corn Marketing Board

A-Team business is conducted through regular conference calls and at the winter and summer meetings. Initial calls for the 2013-14 A-Teams will be announced by the A-Team leads in the near future.