European Sustainability Mission to U.S. Extends to DC and Iowa


USSEC hosted a delegation of European feed manufacturer representatives in the U.S. from October 6-10.  The group of six representatives toured farms on the East Coast before visiting Washington, D.C. and Iowa.
According to USSEC International Market Access Director/Greater EU & MENA Regional Director Brent Babb, who escorted the team, the mission’s aim was to showcase common U.S. conservation practices and the sustainability of U.S. soy to the European visitors.
The team consisted of:  Ruud Tijssens, European Feed Manufacturers’ Federation (FEFAC) chair and Agrifirm’s director of corporate affairs, The Netherlands; John Kelley, chief operation officer at Agricultural Industries Federation (AIC), United Kingdom; Anton Einberger, Nutreco general manager and FEFAC presidium member, Germany; Hermann Josef Baaken, director general of German Feed Association, Germany; Jorge de Saja, director, Spanish Feed Association (CESFAC), Spain; and Eddy Esselink, program manager, sustainable development, MVO (Dutch Vegetable Oil Association), The Netherlands.
Mr. Babb explained that the purpose of the mission was to show the EU team common U.S. conservation practices and to convince them U.S. farming is “sustainable.”  The concept of sustainability is very strong in the feed industry, Mr. Babb said, and FEFAC has declared that, as of 2015, 100 percent of its soybean needs must come through “certified sustainable practices.”
With sustainability in mind, USSEC took the visitors on tours of U.S. farms in Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland, where they were able to see firsthand how U.S. farmers work to protect the environment through their use of conservation practices such as strip tilling.
The delegation next headed to Washington, D.C., where they met with the president of Field to Market, a multi-stakeholder conservation group for consumer goods, manufacturers and retailers; the World Wildlife Federation; the American Soybean Association (ASA); the North American Grain Export Association (NAEGA); the National Oilseed Processors Association (NOPA); staffers who worked on the farm program; the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS); and the National Resource Conservation Service.  The National Resource Conservation Service is the organization responsible for U.S. agricultural conservation and has over 2200 offices and an investment of $6 billion annually.
In Iowa, the delegation talked about the next steps that need to be taken by FEFAC’s Responsible Soy Program and the U.S. Soy Sustainability Assurance Protocol.  The European team traveled to DuPont Pioneer’s corporate headquarters to discuss conservation efforts with that company’s sustainability / biotechnology team and next visited to the Iowa Soybean Association to talk about that group’s strong focus on conservation programs, highlighting key sustainability programs and partners, before visiting a local farm.
On the group’s last day, they heard a presentation from the University of Arkansas’s Dr. Marty Matlock about U.S. soy’s sustainability goals before visiting The Nature Conservancy.
The Europeans import a total of 30 million tons of soybeans per year, with about 5 to 6 million tons coming from the U.S.  A large portion of the EU’s soybean demand is currently met with imports from South America; however, Europeans are concerned about rain forests and a lack of conservation there.