soybean field

USSEC Holds Contractor Workshop


Sixteen attendees, representing all regions, attended a USSEC contractor workshop in Washington, D.C. and St. Louis.  The training was held from October 27-30.
Attendees from North Asia included Hyung Suklee, Julian Lin, Masi Tateishi, and Richard Han.  The South Asia team included Opas Supamornpun, Ted Cortes, Daphne Tan, and Tran Trong Chien.  Consultants from ASC/India were Gopalakrishna Pillai and P.E. Vijay Anand.  The team from the EU/MENA region included Lola Herrera, Khalid Benabdeljelil, and Jerzy Kosieradzki.  Gerardo Luna, Belinda Pignotti, and Fradbelin Escarraman represented the Americas region.
In Washington, D.C., USSEC CEO Jim Sutter welcomed participants, discussing USSEC’s mission and strategy, along with U.S. soy’s strategy of building preference and differentiating its product from soy of other origins.  USSEC High Impact Project’s Paul Smolen talked about how, when and where to market U.S. soy.
The group next visited the North American Grain Export Association (NAEGA) offices where the discussion about differentiation and preference building continued, including such topics as working relations strategy in the regions; working relations in the States; phytosanitary; grain quality; vessel studies; food safety; facts about foreign matter; and harmonization of inspection protocols.  Further dialogue included information about market access, presented by USSEC Trade Barriers & Industry Relations Manager Randy Olson.  Mr. Olson talked about sustainability, especially the U.S. Soy Sustainability Assurance Protocol (SSAP) and its fundamentals, including the certification process.  A session focusing on biotechnology followed, along with problem resolution process.
The second day’s agenda included a review of the American Soybean Association (ASA)’s work and an overview of the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), along with a discussion of common messaging and global communications and the basics of the U.S. farm bill.  After lunch, the group heard about the U.S. soy industry’s capacity, including information about and updates from the North American Oilseed Processing Association (NOPA); key foreign markets; key constraints and issues for U.S. oilseed processors; urgent domestic and international issues; and how to best promote the advantages of purchasing U.S. soybeans products and U.S. meat products.
The next day’s meetings shifted to USSEC’s global headquarters in St. Louis, where Mr. Sutter and USSEC International Director – Program Strategy / ASC & India Regional Director Drew Klein talked to attendees about utilization areas and how they play into strategy before a group panel discussed primary issues impacting the regions.  Marypat Corbett, USSEC Soy Food Program Marketing Manager, spoke to the group about oil and human uses, while USSEC International Animal Feed Marketing Manager Pam Helmsing spoke about meal and animal nutrition.  After lunch, the team listened to the ABCs of compliance, contracts and invoices before one-on-one visits with USSEC staff and team members.
On the final day, the contractors received a macro outlook for soy supply and demand from USSEC consultant John Baize before hearing about industry perspectives on USSEC programs, projects and industry interaction from USSEC Industry Relations / Membership Committee Brandon Bickham.  USSEC Aquaculture Marketing Manager Colby Sutter spoke about customer focus and aquaculture before Mr. Sutter closed the workshop.
Daphne Tan represented Southeast Asia.  As a relatively new program manager based in Singapore, Ms. Tan thought that the contractor workshop was especially helpful.  “If not for these meetings,” she said, “these things might take me a year to learn.”
Ms. Tan found the technical side particularly interesting, especially human utilization.  “Human utilization is of personal interest to me.  Which beans make a smoother tofu or which make creamier milk?  These are just some of the things that I see in my everyday life that I can relay to our customers.”
She noted that the topics covered helped her to better learn USSEC’s structure and mindset.