Virtual Summer Meeting Highlights Global Market Trends Facing Farmers

The U.S. Grains Council held its 60th Annual Board of Delegates Meeting virtually this week to help U.S. grain sector leaders assess the challenges affecting their industry and offer reassurance grain exports continue despite disruptions.

The meeting began Monday on an encouraging note from USGC Chairman Darren Armstrong, a farmer from North Carolina, who reviewed the current marketing year’s top markets for U.S. corn and U.S. sorghum and trends in the marketplace since the onset of COVID-19 disruptions.

“At this virtual meeting, we gather to discuss issues facing our industry and explore future demand,” Armstrong said. “While the current domestic demand situation is challenging, the export outlook has bright spots to share, and I’m happy to report that corn, sorghum, barley, co-products and ethanol are still moving to our partners overseas.”

Armstrong was followed by Dr. David Kohl, president of AgriVisions, an agriculture consulting business, and professor emeritus at Virginia Tech, who assessed the pandemic’s effect on the commodities market and what attendees should expect to see as the situation evolves.

“There are a few things that should be on the grain industry’s radar – the economic health of the protein sector and our trading partners, the weather, the value of the U.S. dollar and consumer trends,” Kohl told attendees. “Our business model of the future relies on us to be resilient, agile, entrepreneurial and with a strong business IQ.”

“We must find ways to manage the controllable elements and continue to manage around the uncontrollable elements during this time.”

StoneX Group Chief Commodities Economist Arlan Suderman later offered market insights on global macro-economic trends and their implications on the ethanol industry sorely affected during this time. He covered a review of global commodity markets, key indicators to watch and the state of the U.S.-China Phase One agreement.

“Price is a function of supply and demand as modified by the flow of money,” said Suderman. “The money is chasing the assets that have the best opportunities to recover.”

Monday’s afternoon sessions included breakouts of the Council’s six membership sectors.

The meeting continued Tuesday with a business session, including reviews of financials and election of new members of the Council’s Board of Directors.

On Wednesday, the Council’s seven Advisory Teams (A-Teams) met in the morning, followed by a closing general session in the afternoon.

Ambassador Craig Allen, president of the U.S – China Business Council, spoke on the state of the U.S.-China trade relationship.

“Both the U.S. and Chinese governments have stated that they wish to fill their commitments in the Phase One agreement,” Allen said. “Successful completion of Phase One is necessary to build confidence within the industry, so we are working very hard to ensure that the Chinese buy more and U.S. exports do well.”

Rounding out the meeting, policy consultant and former assistant U.S. Trade Representative Sharon Bomer Lauritsen shared an update on agricultural trade policy opportunities and challenges.

“The United States still supports reducing tariffs as a tenet of agricultural trade,” Bomer Lauritsen said. “For future bilateral trade agreements within this administration, you can expect the use of the USMCA model.”

More from the meeting is available using hashtag #grains20.