At the U.S. Grains Council’s (USGC’s) 63rd Annual Board of Delegates Meeting last July in Calgary, Canada, Brent Boydston assumed the role of Council chairman. Since then, Boydston has had the opportunity to visit many of the Council’s markets and meet with individuals around the world who ensure U.S. grain exports continue to flow. As we reach the halfway point in his chairman’s year, Global Update editors sat down with Boydston to hear more about his experiences so far.
What has been your favorite mission so far in your chairman’s year and why?
The mission to Senegal has been my favorite. Senegal is a frontier market that is exciting and wants to buy U.S. grain. In our interactions and meetings with government officials, farmers and feed millers, they all spoke of the high quality of U.S. corn and understand the need for partnerships moving forward. It was also interesting to meet with Senegalese poultry farmers and feed millers who have gone through our training programs in Morocco and Tunisia. We were able to see how they have taken what they learned and are applying it. These programs are also the reason one specific feed miller is now importing distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS). Anytime you can see firsthand the positive impact U.S. Grains Council programs are having, it is a good feeling.
How have you seen your chairman’s theme “Growing the Future” represented by the Council and its members?
Every time I have traveled and interacted with U.S. Grains Council members and staff, they are representing the theme. From work in Thailand that is the result of the Southeast Asia Cooperators meeting in Vietnam, to the recent mission in Japan, to farmers inviting foreign delegations to their farms during harvest – this is the type of relationship building that develops into business relationships in the future.
What are you learning in this position?
So far, I have gained a better understanding of the true scale of what U.S. Grains Council staff does. You think you have an understanding, but until you see the staff in action and see the number of issues they work on on behalf of Council members, it can be hard to grasp. The depth of knowledge and professionalism of the staff is second to none.
What topics do you think will be important for members to address at this year’s International Marketing Conference in Guatemala City?
Some of the issues of importance will be the continued focus on regulatory uncertainty, trade protectionism and the future potential for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
Are there any goals you hope to accomplish in the second half of your tenure?
I hope to continue to drive the interest in frontier markets while maintaining the solid relationships we have. We have not only seen good things in Senegal, but also in Nigeria, both of which will drive the West African market. We continue to see Asia being a large partner in trade, and those relationships need to be maintained. Finally, working through the challenges entering the Indian market will be key. The team there has done a great job in the year the new office in New Delhi has been open, and we need to continue to develop and foster those relationships. I also hope to help address the challenges in Mexico and South America. The potential for negative impact by the actions of Mexico toward the U.S. corn trade cannot be understated. We are also seeing challenges in Colombia that could negatively impact corn imports. The Council is working to maintain access to these markets via the tools we have, and I’ll continue to be supportive of these efforts.
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.