Joint Officers’ Mission Sees Council Programs in Action

Leaders of the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) learned about the potential for U.S. corn and corn co-products exports to the Europe, Middle East and Africa region first-hand last week during a joint officers’ mission to Morocco and Tunisia.

“The Middle East and Africa region is a dynamic, growing area for U.S. coarse grains and co-products,” said Chad Willis, USGC chairman and farmer from Minnesota.

“Witnessing the work being done by the Council and the partnerships created across the region allowed these industry leaders to gain a well-rounded view of the Council’s mission of developing markets, enabling trade, and improving lives.”

image of people at a poultry training center
While on the mission, the group met with many key partners in the region. They also visited the Council’s two training centers – the Moroccan Poultry Training Center and the Tunisian Feed Training Center.

The U.S. Grains Council delegation included Willis; Joshua Miller, USGC vice chairman; Brent Boydston, USGC secretary/treasurer; Jim Raben, USGC past chairman; and Ryan LeGrand, USGC president and CEO. The leaders were joined in-country by Kurt Shultz, USGC senior director of global strategies; Ramy Taieb, USGC regional director for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa; and Abdallah Ait Boulahsen and Mustapha El Youssoufi, USGC representatives in Morocco.

The National Corn Growers Association representatives included Chris Edgington, NCGA president; John Linder, NCGA chairman; Thomas Haag, NCGA first vice president; and Jon Doggett, NCGA CEO.

“The trip helped me develop a better understanding of the resources and agricultural needs of the people of Northern Africa,” Edgington said. “The relationships we forged and the information we received will be particularly important as U.S. farmers work to feed and fuel the world.”

During the mission, the group met with longtime partners including at dairy, beef and poultry producers, feed millers and cooperatives. The U.S. leaders also met with the Council’s regional staff in its Tunis office and visited the organization’s two training centers – the Moroccan Poultry Training Center and the Tunisian Feed Training Center. Both of these training centers are instrumental in the Council’s strategy to train a whole new generation of poultry and feed producers across the region and to foster the development of a vibrant and growing feed industry in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“It was great to be on-the-ground with our grower leaders in two of the markets we serve as an organization,” LeGrand said. “Solidifying and strengthening our partnerships through face-to-face interaction around the world is key in moving U.S. farmers’ commodities. The Council’s programs in the region are focused on serving our existing customers and planting the seeds for future growth in Sub-Saharan Africa and other emerging markets.”

The Council’s presence in the Middle East and Africa has been important in developing relationships and creating new opportunities for U.S. grains. Its regional office in Tunisia has acted as a hub of operations since 1997. The region imports 6 to 10 million metric tons of U.S. feed grains and ethanol annually and has tremendous growth opportunities for feed grain imports in the future, which the Council is seeking to foster through its strategic programmatic engagement.