More than 380 grain traders, industry representatives and policymakers from 50 countries gathered virtually to discuss the current state of global grain trade during the annual International Grains Conference (IGC) on June 10.
“London is a very important place symbolically as the English court system provides the legal framework for grain trading,” said Reece Cannady, U.S. Grains Council (USGC) manager of global trade, who spoke during the conference. “At the end of the day, there are lots of major trading decisions that originate there and a lot of economic analysis that comes out of London that are important to the grain industry.”
Since holding the annual event in person this year was precluded by COVID-19-related restrictions, this year’s virtual conference included a multitude of recorded presentations followed by live question and answer sessions. The Council was represented by three speakers during the event, each covering different areas of the Council’s programming.
Ryan LeGrand, USGC president and chief executive officer, helped open the conference, speaking on how to overcome the current turmoil in the global economy and how to promote globalization of the grain trade. He detailed how the U.S. grain supply chain has continued largely unhindered during the COVID-19 lockdowns thanks to an industry-wide commitment to the export system.
“Today, more than ever, the U.S. grain system and our exports to the world rely heavily on decades of experience in grain handling; marketing systems; our network of rail, truck, barge and vessel transportation; and on planting and crop technology such as precision planting tools and biotechnology that help our farmers fight crop diseases and climatic fluctuations,” LeGrand said. “And certainly, we rely on our greatest asset – our farmers’ resiliency in the face of adversity.”
Cannady also carried the message of U.S. commitment to growing and exporting coarse grains, representing the United States on a panel that also included speakers from Ukraine and Brazil. He noted that questions focused on the large Brazilian and U.S. corn crops as he provided updates on corn planting and progress.
“Farmers have been very active in their planting, and there’s great hope for a wonderful crop coming out of the U.S.,” Cannady said. “We want you to continue to consider the U.S. as your preferred provider, not only for smart buying reasons, but also as the most reliable supplier around the world. Despite any kind of pandemic that’s occurring right now, we are still in business, and we will continue to be in business going forward.”
Brian Healy, USGC director of global ethanol market development, spoke specifically on ethanol market development, including how coronavirus-related movement restrictions reduced gasoline consumption and how demand is picking up as lockdowns end and road traffic moves back toward normal levels. He emphasized the importance of supporting ethanol-use policies around the world to the recovery of these markets in upcoming years.
“Beyond 2020, the current policies that are in place and the policies that are being discussed will be key in what demand looks like in the future,” Healy said. “It is imperative that these policies continue to move forward. Both ethanol as well as feedstock producers should be the most concerned about these potential policy changes because they will have lasting, long-term impacts on the industry.”
Through these sessions and more on current events and challenges, the IGC conference provided valuable market intelligence Council staff will use to better serve U.S. farmers and agribusinesses in overcoming the logistical and political hurdles to expanded trade.
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.