(Posted Fri. Aug 23rd, 2013)

Aug. 23: This week, a team of Colombian grain buyers, organized by the U.S. Grains Council, visited the National Corn Growers Association for discussions about the 2013 corn crop and U.S. corn markets. The discussion, part of an effort to enhance interest in sourcing feed grains from the United States, comes as a direct result of the distinct trade advantage the country now enjoys because of trade policies recently enacted.


The meeting, led by NCGA Vice President of Production and Utilization Paul Bertels, included analysis of the record crop forecast by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, an examination of the reliability of U.S. corn suppliers and conversations about the advantages of sourcing corn from the United States.


In 2008, U.S. corn imports accounted for 80 percent of the Colombian corn market. The delay in ratification of the U.S.-Colombian Free Trade Agreement contributed to a decline in U.S. market share. By 2011, U.S. corn accounted for only 21 percent of that market.


NCGA, along with a variety of other organizations, pushed vigorously for passage of the FTA and, in late 2011, this important trade agreement was ratified by the U.S. Congress.  Colombian buyers can now return to purchasing U.S. corn without paying tariffs in place prior to FTA implementation. As the FTA implementation continues, NCGA expects that more stories of increased market access benefitting U.S. corn farmers will arise.


“This purchase clearly illustrates both why NCGA’s work in promoting trade agreements benefits U.S. corn farmers and the effectiveness of its work in collaboration with the U.S. Grains Council,” said NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team Chair Jim Zimmerman, a farmer from Wisconsin. “Together, NCGA and USGC can affect real change by promoting policies that open markets and building the relationships that capitalize on said policies. While this work may seem ephemeral, the impact on corn demand has very concrete benefits for farmers.”


The team included procurement, sourcing and logistic leadership from groups in the livestock, pork and poultry feed sectors. In addition to their visit with NCGA, these industry leaders traveled much of Missouri and parts of Illinois to meet with U.S. leaders in biotechnology, ethanol, biodiesel, grain purveyors, government officials and to tour working farms.