USGC Winter Meeting Kicks Off With Speakers On Latin American Grain, Biofuel Markets

Members of the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) gathered on Wednesday in Guatemala City, Guatemala, for the first day of the Council’s 21st International Marketing Conference and 64th Annual Membership Meeting, held Feb. 14-16, to discuss the current state of feed grain and biofuel markets around the world and update attendees on the Council’s plans for 2024 and beyond.

USGC Chairman Brent Boydston opened the event with a welcome address and an overview of his tenure thus far. Boydston then introduced the day’s first speaker, Deputy Chief of Mission for the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala Patrick Ventrell.

“My theme for this year, Growing the Future, reflects both the opportunities and challenges of the current trade environment,” Boydston said. “At this meeting, we gather to discuss issues facing our industry and explore future demand for feed grains, distiller’s dried grains with solubles and ethanol around the world.”

Chief Agricultural Negotiator from the Office of the United States Trade Representative Doug McKalip addressed attendees later in the morning, highlighting the importance of his office’s work in Guatemala and Central America.

Panels featuring deep dives into Guatemala’s feed grain and ethanol markets followed, beginning with a discussion moderated by Juan Antonio Assante, grain procurement manager at CMI Alimentos.

Renatto Tible, president of the Renewable Fuels Association of Guatemala, was next to moderate a panel centered on the challenges and opportunities for the future of the Guatemalan ethanol market. USGC Regional Director in Latin America Marri Tejada then took the stage to detail the Council’s programming and strategy in the region.

Wednesday’s agenda also included a panel on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Regional Agricultural Promotion Program (RAPP), designed to reimburse nonprofit agricultural trade organizations for their work in international markets. USGC President and CEO Ryan LeGrand, USGC Vice President Cary Sifferath and USGC Senior Director of Global Strategies Kurt Shultz took the stage to explain what RAPP will mean for the Council and the scope of its work in the future.

“The amount of engagement this money will allow the Council to achieve is simply unprecedented,” LeGrand said. “The budget increases that cooperators have requested for so long will finally become a reality and the size and scope of our organization will be forever changed.”

On Thursday, members split into their respective Advisory Teams (A-Teams) for detailed discussions about the commodities and markets relevant to U.S. farmers.

The meeting will conclude on Friday with the Council’s Board of Delegates meeting, where A-Team and sector commodity reports will be presented and delegates will vote on a new set of bylaws for the Council.