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Iowa Corn Farmers Host Japanese Technical Grain Trade Team

October 20, 2017

As harvest moves into full swing, international trade teams continue making stops in Iowa to see U.S. corn production and the quality of this year’s crop first-hand. Just this week, a U.S. Grains Council (USGC) trade team representing the Japanese feed industry traveled to Iowa to see U.S. corn and distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) production and supply. The team visited corn farms, river terminals, elevators, and major ethanol and DDGs plants.

“Harvest time is when our corn comes off the assembly line so to speak,” explained Bruce Rohwer, a corn and livestock farmer from Paullina who hosted the team. “Just like farmers enjoy visiting the manufacturing plant to see their new machinery rolling off the assembly floor, international buyers want to visit Iowa and see their corn coming directly from the field.”

The delegation happened to visit Bruce on a day it was too wet to harvest. During the visit, they climbed up and sat in the combine and saw the rest of his equipment. He also showed them a test sample of corn he had harvested and ran through an antique sheller. “They were amazed by the color of the shelled corn,” said Rohwer. “They wanted to know if the corn was always the same color or if it changed color during the drying process. They had never seen shelled corn like that before. I told them it’s usually the same shade of golden-yellow.”

The group included nine representatives with positions designing feed rations for major Japanese hog operations, therefore, their trip included visits to Rohwer’s farm as well as Doug Carter’s hog and row crop farm in Audubon and Denny Friest’s row crop and hog farm in Radcliffe to obtain information on the nutritional advantages of DDGs and feeding practices in the United States. Other stops composed of a tour of the Green Plains Shenandoah facility, a presentation about the basics of Iowa corn and ethanol industries and a forecast report on Iowa’s corn harvest, a stop at Innovative Ag in Garden City, and presentation on the latest DDGs research at Iowa State University.

“They were primarily interested in seeing how I use DDGs in my hog operation,” said Rohwer. “They were friendly and inquisitive about Iowa agriculture. Whenever you can put a human face to the product you are selling, it makes a difference. You want to buy from someone you can look in the eyes. With all the negative rhetoric happening on trade these days, we must cultivate personal relationships with our international customers. We need to let them know trade and their business matters to U.S. farmers.”

Japan is the top customer for U.S. corn this marketing year, purchasing 12.7 million metric tons (almost 500 million bushels) thus far (Sept. 2016-July 2017), an increase of 38 percent year-over-year and the most imports since 2010/2011. Overall, Japan’s imports of corn in all forms, including value added products made with corn, increased 32 percent compared to the same period this year prior with a value of $5.48 billion. 

Iowa Corn Promotion Board invests checkoff dollars in the U.S. Grain Council, a private, non-profit organization that works to develop exports in more than 50 countries from 10 worldwide offices and its Washington, D.C. headquarters. 

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The Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB), works to develop and defend markets, fund research, and provide education about corn and corn products.  For more information, visit iowacorn.org.

The U.S. Grains Council develops export markets for U.S. barley, corn, sorghum and related products including ethanol and distiller’s dried grains with solubes (DDGS). The Council believes exports are vital to global economic development and to U.S. agriculture's profitability. Founded in 1960, the Council is a private, non-profit corporation with 10 international offices and programs in more than 50 countries. Its unique membership includes producer organizations and agribusinesses with a common interest in developing export markets. See more at www.grains.org.

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