The U.S. Grains Council’s (USGC’s) headquarters office in Washington, D.C., typically hosts member groups throughout the year for catch-up discussions and market updates. While working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, USGC staff have found new ways to continue keeping members informed on the latest happenings in trade and export markets.
“The Council is fortunate to have members who stay very engaged in regular communication,” said Ellen Zimmerman, USGC director of industry relations. “The continuous feedback loop between the Council and members is tremendous and helps to enable trade during the pandemic.”
Undeterred by the inability to conduct face-to-face meetings, USGC staff members have been participating virtually in membership meetings with state commodity organizations.
“The webinar dynamic is a little different than the in-person meetings,” Zimmerman said. “Although different, the webinars have been successful in catering to each states’ planning and concerns.”
Each presentation is specialized for the specific member organization. For example, a webinar involving Corn Marketing Program of Michigan was divided into three sections on different days and times that included market updates from the Council as well as weed and pest specialists from the state, while Texas Corn Producers Board has an ongoing webinar series called Corn Conversations.
A variety of USGC staff can participate in these virtual meetings, upping the expertise available at any one time. For example, three different USGC staff members presented to the Texas corn group. Ryan LeGrand, USGC president and CEO, gave specific market updates; Melissa Kessler, USGC director of strategic relations, shared the importance of trade for all farmers; and Kurt Shultz, USGC director of global strategies, spoke about market development and emerging markets.
During the Michigan meeting, USGC headquarters staff were joined by country directors to further expand the expertise a virtual format allows to join the discussion. Bryan Lohmar, USGC director in China, and Stephan Witting, USGC director in Mexico, both gave updates on the countries in which they work.
The Council will also be participating in an upcoming webinar with the Colorado Corn Administrative Committee, where LeGrand will discuss how the Council’s work is continuing during the pandemic and markets of interest to Colorado corn farmers.
While each presentation is tailored, similar topics and concerns are frequently discussed. One common thread with the state-specialized webinars involves discussions about the need to continue trade during the pandemic and how to implement virtual market development work in global markets.
The ongoing discussions on the evolving economy and ways to increase trade are critical for both the Council and its members.
Stay up-to-date on all of the Council’s trade and export markets news on grains.org.
About The U.S. Grains Council
The U.S. Grains Council develops export markets for U.S. barley, corn, sorghum and related products including distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and ethanol. With full-time presence in 28 locations, the Council operates programs in more than 50 countries and the European Union. The Council believes exports are vital to global economic development and to U.S. agriculture’s profitability. Detailed information about the Council and its programs is online at www.grains.org.