Building relationships to build trade has been a central theme during Jim Raben’s 10 years as a delegate of the U.S. Grains Council (USGC). This year, it became a theme with special meaning as Raben served as Council chairman in the midst of a global pandemic.
Raben, a corn and soybean farmer from Illinois, was recognized during the virtual 18th International Marketing Conference and 61st Annual Membership Meeting earlier this year for his decade of service as a delegate to the Council.
During the pandemic, restrictions on travel to countries in which the Council does business challenged Raben to think about his role in new ways. He shared those thoughts in a recent National Association of Farm Broadcasting interview.
“It will be a year we won’t forget,” Raben said. “I never was a very technology-minded person. Virtual meetings? Boy, I hated them at first. Now, I can see the value in them. If we can’t have them in person, these virtual meetings are a plus.”
During his time as a delegate, Raben served on the Asia Advisory Team (A-Team) and the Middle East/Asia/South Asia A-Team before becoming the board liaison for the Latin America A-Team. Raben first joined the Council Board of Directors when he was elected as secretary/treasurer in 2018. From there, he became vice chairman and then chairman.
In addition to serving as a Council delegate, Raben has spent 10 years as a member of the Illinois Corn Marketing Board.
Learning more deeply about trade during his time as a Council delegate allowed Raben to better understand the cultivation of markets over time.
Raben remembers traveling to Myanmar in early 2020, before pandemic restrictions took hold, where the Council team members were able to “make ourselves present.”
“They know what we stand for, and just being there and meeting these people and going out to eat meals together builds that relationship,” he said.
Earlier this month, with travel restrictions lifting, Raben was finally able to make his first in-person international visit to Panama as Council chairman with Council President and CEO Ryan LeGrand. They will visit additional markets if they are able before Raben’s term as chairman ends in July.
“We have built a good, firm relationship with many countries, and they look toward us for their grain needs, which is great,” Raben said. “To me, it hasn’t changed that much. They believe in us, and we believe in them, and we have a good seller-buyer relationship.”
Please join us in congratulating Jim on his 10 years of service as a delegate to the Council and for his tenure as Council chairman!
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.