Trade Policy Talks, Priorities Take Center Stage at USGC Annual Meeting

U.S. Grains Council (USGC) delegates received powerful insights into the global grain trade and trade policy’s role in the future dynamics of the market during Monday's opening general session.

Informa Economics Vice President Nick Hoyt set the stage with a keynote presentation delving into global supply and demand dynamics for coarse grains and co-products, including the impact of a strong dollar, growing production from competitors like Brazil, and a U.S. corn yield that has yet to be determined.

A panel discussion about the now-ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks as they relate to both U.S. and Canadian agriculture followed, featuring Phil Karsting, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) administrator; Nick Giordano, National Pork Producers Council vice president and counsel for global government affairs; and Jack Hughes, Hill+Knowlton Strategies vice president headquartered in Montreal.

The panelists agreed that a high-quality TPP agreement would effectively lower taxes and the regulatory burden for agricultural producers and that access to critical markets like Japan is essential to both the United States and Canada. They also urged the farmers and agribusiness representatives in the room to educate policy makers about the importance of these agreements to their profitability. 

“Trade policy sets the rules of the road for the global marketplace,” said Ron Gray, USGC chairman. “Being in Canada for our meeting while the TPP talks are ongoing sets the stage for this conversation about the complexity of negotiating this type of agreement and how critical it is to establish trade preferences with a block of countries accounting for 40 percent of world’s gross domestic product.”

The Council’s members are keenly interested in the outcome of the TPP negotiations, with the organization participating in the talks on behalf of the grains industry. The Council’s objectives in the TPP talks include:
• securing increased market access for U.S products;
• ensuring that existing access remains open; and
• achieving a more robust sanitary and phytosanitary chapter that will reduce non-tariff trade barriers and provide for faster resolution of barriers that do arise.

More about the ongoing annual meeting is available online at or on social media using the hashtag #grains15.