soybean field

USSEC Hosts 3rd Annual Industry Advisory Council Meeting

USSEC hosted its third annual Industry Advisory Council (IAC) meeting in Chesterfield, Mo. this week to discuss emerging issues affecting U.S. soy exports and strategies to foster trade.  The IAC is made up of a broad-based group of senior industry stakeholders including bulk and container exporters, oilseed processors, soy food companies, food grade commodity suppliers, equipment manufacturers, seed and technology providers, and a port official.  Guests included United Soybean Board (USB) CEO John Becherer and Mark Winkle who leads USB's domestic programs.
USSEC CEO, regional directors and headquarters staff spoke about market trends and shared plans for market development efforts.  Bruce Sherr of Informa Economics made a presentation on long-term economic drivers and an outlook of agricultural markets overall.  He stressed the importance of recognizing the emerging issues of water and sustainability.  He said the U.S. has a great opportunity to position itself as an exporter of water through oilseeds and other commodities to countries with severe water shortages.  He also noted the developing world's shrinking share of global population and remarked that "risk acceptors" willing to engage in developing markets such as India, Africa, and the Middle East could be well positioned to earn market share as those economies grow and respond to their growing need for food and feedstuffs.
IAC member Bob Sinner of SB&B Inc. Foods based in Casselton, N. Dak. said, "As someone who has been around the soy checkoff for a long time and a former chair of its International Marketing Committee, I am impressed with the work and enthusiasm of the USSEC staff."
The group applauded ongoing market access and government relations work throughout North Asia, Europe, Southeast Asia, Latin America and the Middle East/North Africa.  Through its network of international offices, USSEC is uniquely positioned it to advocate on behalf of U.S. sustainability, biotech acceptance, internationally-recognized sound science and defend against trade distorting policies such as differential export taxes and other trade barriers.
IAC members commented on the importance of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture's Export Credit Guarantee Program (GSM-102) which is often the difference between success and failure in securing a sale of U.S. soy or other commodities. Chris Nikkel of Bunge said, GSM-102 is often the key to getting deals "across-the-finish line" because the favorable credit terms and USDA-backed bank guarantee makes U.S. agricultural products more competitive.  USSEC is examining opportunities to promote GSM-102 in certain markets and provide training to importers on how to use the program.

The group also discussed consumption trends in the Middle East and some of the difficulties addressing the market given the ongoing security situation.  Industry representatives praised USSEC for its work in the Middle East and for being proactive in examining geopolitical risk and potential workarounds when ports are closed due to unrest.
IAC members will submit additional feedback to USSEC in writing to guide the direction of future programming.