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ARGLINGTON, VIRGINIA, U.S. — U.S. Wheat Associates (USW), the industry’s export market development organization, announced on Feb. 14 it has promoted three associates to vice-president. Ben Conner has been named vice-president of policy, Joe Sowers was promoted to regional vice-president for Philippines and Korea, and Jeff Coey was named regional vice-president for China and Taiwan. In addition, Matt Weimar, regional vice-president for South Asia, adds responsibilities as senior adviser across all Asian countries.

“The importance of trade policy issues related to U.S. wheat export opportunities continues to grow and Ben Conner has stepped up quickly to senior level work in his role as director of policy,” said Vince Peterson, president of USW.

Ben Conner VP of Policy
Ben Conner

Based in Arlington, Virginia, Conner directs USW efforts to work collaboratively with wheat farmers and customers around the world to create a fair and competitive trade environment for U.S. wheat. He joined USW in October 2014 as assistant director of policy and was named director of policy in 2016. Before joining USW, he worked in agriculture and trade policy as a legislative assistant to former U.S. Senator Mike Johanns.

“With promotions for Joe Sowers and Jeff Coey, we are recognizing their contributions and growth in their export market development roles,” said Mark Fowler, vice-president for overseas operations at USW. “The changes in responsibility will also help make regional activities even more effective and efficient.”

Joe Sowers regional VP for Philippines and Korea for USW
Joe Sowers

Sowers is based in Manila, Philippines, and will manage staff and export market development activities originating there and in Seoul, South Korea. He joined USW in 2005 as a market analyst in Washington, D.C., and earned a promotion to senior market analyst before moving to the USW regional office in Mexico City as assistant regional director for Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America. In 2011, Sowers was transferred to Manila as assistant regional director for South Asia.

Jeff Coey regional VP for China and Taiwan for USW
Jeff Coey

Coey is based in Hong Kong and will manage staff and export market development activities originating in offices in Hong Kong, Beijing and Taipei. He joined USW in 2015 with more than 25 years of marketing and trade facilitation experience in East Asia, including cotton merchandising in Hong Kong and Beijing, China, and as a lecturer for the master's degree program at the Hong Kong Baptist University's School of Communication.

Weimar started with USW as country director in the Beijing office in 1987 and was assigned as regional director in 1993 in the Hong Kong office where he served for many years before being named regional vice-president for South Asia and moving to Singapore in 2015.

USW works in more than 100 countries with a mission to “develop, maintain and expand international markets to enhance wheat’s profitability for U.S. producers and its value for their customers.”