Tag Archives: US Grains Council

Procurement and quality assurance officials from four Japanese commercial feed millers visited the Council’s headquarters office in Washington, D.C., late last month for an annual corn quality information exchange meeting.

In addition to Council staff, representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Federal Grain Inspection Service (USDA’s FGIS) and North American Export Grain Association (NAEGA) participated.

“This annual quality meeting is important to show appreciation for our Japanese customers,” said Tommy Hamamoto, USGC director in Japan. “Even though Japanese industry officials noted the presence of rocks, dust and low protein as issues for U.S. corn, they did not seem to have to point out serious issues such as mycotoxins and noted they were generally satisfied with the quality of U.S. corn.”

Earlier this year, the Council received reports of stones the size of corn kernels in shipments to Japan, which had to be picked out by hand because they could not be removed by sieves before going to roller mills.

The report served as an important reminder of how foreign material – including non-grain plant materials and other objects – inadvertently mixed with corn cargoes can undermine the reputation of U.S. grains. The U.S. grain supply chain as a whole must continue to pay attention to good handling practices, from seed development and equipment design to storage and transportation.

“It is important to hear the Japanese industry’s concerns, like the presence of rocks, to maintain the level of confidence in U.S. corn,” Hamamoto said. “In that regard, it is especially important to continue this annual meeting, even in years where there are no specific quality concerns.”

USGC staff in Japan and other markets globally talk regularly with customers about quality to hear their perspectives and share information about the U.S. grading and export systems.

Japan ranked as the second largest buyer of U.S. corn in 2016/2017, increasing imports nearly 30 percent year-over-year to the highest levels in nearly a decade at 13.5 million tons (nearly 533 million bushels). Japan also nearly doubled U.S. sorghum purchases to 183,000 tons (7.19 million bushels), the third largest buyer.

Denver – Members, delegates and global staff from the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) have gathered in Denver for the organization’s 58th Annual Board of Delegates Meeting, starting Monday and running through Wednesday.

“We gather at this meeting to discuss the dynamic and developing environment for global grains trade as well as demand opportunities for feed grains and their co-products around the world,” said Deb Keller, USGC chairman and farmer from Iowa. “Our goal is always to better understand agriculture’s role in world trade and how to maintain good working relationships with our international trading partners while we explore new export frontiers.”

Ambassador Carla Hills, former U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and now head of a trade-focused consulting firm, will address the group during the first general session on Monday. She will be joined by Zhenglin Wei, counselor for Agricultural, Economic and Commercial Affairs at the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China; Dan Pearson, former chairman of the U.S. International Trade Commission; and Erich Kuss, director of USDA’s Agricultural Trade Office in Mexico City. Farmers for Free Trade Executive Director Brian Kuehl will also speak Monday on building the American consensus for trade.

USGC Advisory Teams will also meet on Monday, and commodity sectors will meet on Tuesday, to discuss issues of importance in their areas of focus. Tuesday’s general sessions will highlight the organization’s work in Middle East markets and the growing world market for ethanol. The Council will hold its business meeting on Wednesday.

“Our theme – Friends and Frontiers – is timely, as we discuss how to strengthen relationships with key international trading partners while addressing challenges that have come before agriculture markets in recent months,” Keller said.

“This meeting highlights the critical trade efforts the Council is engaging in around the world as we better understand what must be done to continue building global demand for our products.”

More from the meeting will be available on social media, using the hashtag #grains18.

Washington, D.C. – Clover Chang, the longtime director of the U.S. Grains Council’s (USGC’s) office in Taiwan, will retire effective Aug. 10, with Michael Lu hired to take on the role as of Aug. 6.

Chang has worked for the Council for 34 years, and his achievements will be honored by members and his colleagues at the organization’s 58th Annual Board of Delegates Meeting scheduled for late this month.

“It has been an honor to work with Clover over so many years, and we’ve relied heavily on his understanding of the unique political, economic and trade factors that affect the Taiwanese market,” said USGC Chairman Deb Keller.

“We at the Council are most appreciative of Clover’s service. It is bittersweet to lose someone of Clover’s magnitude because he has been a key part of our outreach. His innate understanding of the market in Taiwan has attributed to his ability to handle the U.S. coarse grain industry with both grace and diplomacy.”

Based in Taipei, Chang has been responsible for identifying and addressing trade, technical and policy factors relevant to building and maintaining the market for U.S. coarse grains and related products in Taiwan.

Prior to the Council, Chang – who holds a master’s degree in animal science – worked for the Cyanamid Taiwan Corporation, starting as a sales representative and was promoted to a product manager in 1981. He also previously worked for the Taiwan government’s Livestock Research Institute.

Lu, who comes to the Council from Cargill Taiwan, will carry on Chang’s critical work in the region.

“We are very excited to have Michael join our Asia regional team and follow Clover to further build upon our market presence and strong commitment to our loyal customers in Taiwan,” said USGC President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Sleight.

Lu brings 25 years of experience in agri-food industries, trading and sales and marketing.

Prior to joining the Council, Lu worked for Cargill in Taiwan as the assistant general manager in charge of grains, oilseeds, oils and non-grain feed ingredients business, working with products originated around the world.

Lu has strong relationships and connections with government agencies and grain end-users in Taiwan, including animal feed producers, poultry and hog producers, crushing plants and oil refiners, flour milling and corn milling plants and local traders supplying agri-food ingredients for local markets.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in animal sciences from National Chung Hsing University in Taiwan.

Taiwan was the fifth largest market for U.S. corn in the 2016/2017 marketing year, purchasing nearly 3 million metric tons at a value of $511 million dollars. It is also the fourth largest market for U.S. barley exports. The Council has maintained an office in Taiwan since 1973.