The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) recognized Laura Knoth, executive director of the Kentucky Corn Promotion Council, for 10 years of service at the organization’s virtual 60th Annual Board of Delegates Meeting this summer. She leads the charge for helping Kentucky corn growers stay informed on the importance of market development work to making trade happen.
“Farmers understand it takes personal interactions to make trade deals happen,” Knoth said. “They recognize that the world stage is bigger and more connected, and it takes more effort to sell our products.”
One of the first international activities Knoth attended when she began working for Kentucky Corn was a state executives’ mission to Ukraine. The program opened her eyes to both the international competition for corn exports and the importance of distinguishing U.S. corn from competing supplies.
“It was my first experience seeing the Black Sea region and what their potential production was,” Knoth said. “It helped reinforce how important developing markets was in addressing competition, and talking about the value of our consistent quality, reliability and all those things that make U.S. origin valuable.”
Knoth also recalled a mission during which a USGC delegation met with food companies in Europe, ethanol plants in Spain and the ministry of agriculture in Ireland. The delegation was able to attend major trade discussions between the United States and Ireland, providing even more recognition of what it takes to meet demand in these markets.
“It was official trade in action, and it was because of the Council that we got to witness that happening and make connections we wouldn’t have made otherwise,” Knoth said. “You begin to realize just how hard the negotiations are and how they work.”
As she became more involved in Council meetings and activities, Knoth communicated these lessons back to her board members, augmenting their existing support for international market development.
“I was able to relay firsthand the importance of the Council,” Knoth said. “I was able to add to that long-standing awareness of the value of the Council and encourage more of our board members to be actively involved.”
Many of her board members have now traveled to South America and the Black Sea to see the increased competition worldwide. By actively participating in USGC programs like corn quality rollout seminars, Kentucky growers have seen the Council’s hands-on work to help buyers understand value and quality, especially as yields on their own farms have increased. In particular, the Council’s shifting focus to promote grains in all forms has further demonstrated to growers how the organization is working to add value to their own operations.
“Farmers recognize how important it is not only to sell the raw product, but all its other, related products,” Knoth said. “Seeing the Council move into DDGS and ethanol just seemed like a natural progression, but an important step to make. We have been so impressed to watch the Council improve its knowledge and abilities and, in a very short time, grow some amazing marketing programs for those products.”
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.