Farmers plant seeds overseas PDF Print E-mail
Written by BILL RYAN Sentinel Farm Editor   
Friday, 11 October 2013 10:44
Members of the U.S. Grain Council delegation are seen in downtown Tokyo. The men are (from left) Gary Wheeler from Missouri, Duane Aistrope from Iowa, Paul Herringshaw of Bowling Green and Glenn Ginder of Illinois. (Photo provided)
A county farmer recently was part of a trade mission to Asia to regain foreign market sources for U.S. growers lost to last year's drought.
Paul Herringshaw, of Bowling Green, made the journey to Seoul, Korea and Tokyo, Japan from Aug. 31 to Sept. 8.
The excursion was coordinated by the U.S. Grains Council, a private, non-profit corporation which serves as the exporting arm for various grains.
He was one of eight farmers and two staff that made the trip, representing corn interests in Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Indiana and Ohio. Along with Herringshaw, Fred Yoder and Gene Baumgardner represented the Ohio Corn Marketing Program.
"Our mission was to promote U.S. corn and gather information," Herringshaw said.
"Together, Japan and Korea make up 46 percent of the U.S. corn export market. This is a significant market for Ohio corn farmers. It's important that we continue to strengthen these partnerships and build our share of the Japanese and Korean corn market," said Herringshaw.
He noted how last year's drought was devastating to the markets. The United States corn growers could not fulfill the demand last year for corn. 
"Foreign competitors saw a chance to come in," he said.
South American countries such as Brazil are now supplying more grain to both Korea and Japan, reducing the U.S. share of supply from up to 90 percent of Japan's imports in 2012 to around 28 percent currently.
"We were working to get our share of corn back," Herringshaw said of the group's mission.
They met with representatives from feed processing, manufacturing and trade associations, and government agricultural departments to stress the importance of export markets. The group also provided updates to key customers, for example the millers, about the current status of U.S. corn crops.
"We were telling them we had a good crop to reassure them we could supply them with their needs," he said. "They knew we were close to our harvest time, and they were impressed we took the time to talk to them."
Because of the differences between North American dent corn and South American flint corn, Asian processors had to invest in new equipment last year because flint corn has a harder shell than its northern counterpart.
Because they now have that new equipment, he said U.S. growers "have to work harder to be competitive. All buyers are important."
The goal is to price corn so  farmers  make money, yet still be competitive on global markets.
"We want to get as many buyers back as possible," Herringshaw said. "All things being equal, they will buy U.S. corn."
Foreign buyers know they can trust the corn they order will be the quality they receive, he said. And this country's infrastructure is superior to many other countries assuring the buyers they will get their grain in a timely fashion.
Herringshaw, as the chairman of Ohio Corn Growers marketing program, is a delegate to the United States Grains Council. He visited Japan two years ago on a similar mission.
He compared the tone of these meetings as being "much more pleasant."
Asian officials were less concerned about how much corn was being produced here for ethanol. He attributed that to the fact that prices are more favorable now than they were two years earlier.
Though translators were used, Herringshaw said, he noted many of the officials they spoke with did understand English as they would react to remarks frequently before the translation was provided.
During the visit he said they always felt safe in both countries and noted how impressed he was as "both countries were very clean."
Adding, "There was no litter and no graffiti. All our hosts were very gracious."
Though tourist activities were limited, he did get to see a statue General Douglas MacArthur in Incheon, a suburb of Seoul. He liked the respect shown to the U.S. general for his efforts in Asia during World War II and Korean War.
Herringshaw summed up his overall impressions of the visit. "My take is that U.S. corn producers will have to be more competitive from here on out. We knew the higher corn prices for corn were not sustainable. Export markets are even more important in the future. We need all the markets we can have."
Last Updated on Friday, 11 October 2013 12:41

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