Set amid a backdrop of record-breaking weather-related delays, narrow margins and continued geopolitical uncertainty, the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) opened its summer annual meeting Monday in Cincinnati by examining major short-term and long-term market trends for U.S. feed grains and the future of the organization’s market development work.
The 59th Annual Board of Delegates Meeting began on an expectant note with USGC Chairman Jim Stitzlein formally introducing USGC President and CEO Ryan LeGrand to the organization’s membership. LeGrand - who came to his new role in June from leading the USGC’s Mexico office - expressed his measured enthusiasm about the USGC’s role in finding new and more robust markets for U.S. grains with a $20 million allocation from the Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP) program.
“We clearly have challenging days ahead of us, but we also have a number of bright spots that make it an equally exciting time to be an advocate for trade of U.S. corn, sorghum, barley, DDGS and ethanol,” LeGrand said.
“We’ve had to learn to be nimble as markets change and grow, and we will need to meet this challenge continually as markets we work with will change even faster in the future. And that’s what I envision the USGC doing with the help of our staff around the world, our valued members, our friends and allies at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service and the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office.”
Ron Dulin, a consultant from Euromonitor International, and Ken Smithmier, director of market research for agricultural markets at ClipperData, gave keynotes overviewing trends in the marketplace of today and population growth that will drive future markets.
Dulin spoke on Euromonitor’s research into “megacities,” which will dominate economic growth and grain demands over the next 10 years. He explained that the vast majority of megacities are in the developing world, including in China and India, and that future food and energy demand will be driven in these areas of high population seeing rapidly increasing food consumption and need for better air quality.
Smithmier shared his firm’s research about global grain flows and how weather and intervening market forces will cause short-term and long-term effects with respect to agricultural products, namely grains and ethanol. Smithmier reviewed the seasonal and cyclical fluctuations of the global grain market as well as factors that could impact U.S. competitiveness including ongoing trade policy negotiations, changing fuel standards for ocean-going ships and infrastructure development in South America.
In the afternoon, attendees spent time in one or more of seven Advisory Team (A-Team) meetings. Each A-Team has a specific focus -- including Asia, Ethanol, Innovation and Sustainability, Middle East/Africa, Trade Policy, Value-Added and Western Hemisphere – allowing members the chance to offer input and set priorities to determine the USGC’s course of action over the coming year.
On Tuesday, USGC programming is scheduled to focus on emerging markets for U.S. grains and ethanol, with the Cincinnati meetings culminating on Wednesday with the USGC’s Board of Delegates meeting, appointment of A-Team leaders and election of a new board of directors.