Removed from their ocean breezes and tropical temperatures, cold gusts of wind and rain whipped through the air as 12 Latin America grain buyers inspected SDCGA president Mark Gross’s cornfield on the south edge of Bridgewater Monday morning. Why would they bother standing in the cold rain to tour South Dakota crops? Because their countries simply can’t produce the grains necessary in order to meet demands and it’s their job to find healthy and affordable supplies.
Commodity purchasers from Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Peru and Venezuela were a part of a United States Grains Council trade team who are in the midst of touring crop fields and other agriculture facilities in South Dakota, Missouri and Louisiana. The buyers brought an onslaught of questions on farm management decisions, grain moisture content, sales and most importantly, the quality of the crop being harvested.
“Last year’s drought damaged much more than our crops. It hurt our export market opportunities with the rising corn prices and lower quality kernels,” said SDCUC vice-president Mark Gross. “Rebuilding these relationships firsthand with buyers is key to winning back their trust and access to growing markets.”
While it may not be the cure-all, nothing improves relationships with buyers like a record corn crop, which has been predicted by the USDA and several market experts.
“We depend a lot on raw materials from the United States,” said Rafael Colmenares, a buyer from Venezuela, which traditionally has been a leading importer of U.S. corn. “Unfortunately, our country continues to produce less corn so we will need to continue purchasing more from the United States.”
While there is competition in the global market for grains, trade team visitors noted that due to advances in the American export system, they can recieve shipments of grains nearly three times faster than from Argentina, another major exporter.
“America continues to produce the most affordable food in the world because of our investments in infrastructure, technology and continued improvements in efficiency,” added Gross. “So it’s disparaging when critics claim that farmers aren’t feeding the world, as if it were some false slogan. The need is real and we are continuing to increase our yields in order to meet all demands, including those in Latin America countries and others across the globe.”