Representatives of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) who recently returned from an 11-day fact-finding mission to Vietnam and China came back optimistic about potential markets in those countries for U.S. corn and co-products.
USGC sponsored the first two legs of the trip to Vietnam and China, where mission objectives included analyzing market situations in both countries and assessing the role each will play in importing U.S. feed grains and co-products like DDGs.
From China, NCGA representatives flew to New Zealand for four days of talks with agricultural producers and officials there.
NCGA President Gerald Tumbleson, First Vice-President Ken McCauley, Corn Board member Daryl Haack and CEO Rick Tolman represented NCGA on the trip.
USGC President and CEO Ken Hobbie, Chairman Davis Anderson, Vice-Chairman Vic Miller and Senior Director of International Relations Mike Callahan represented USGC.
Tumbleson and McCauley both said they saw the potential of markets for DDGs in Vietnam and for corn in China.
“I think we have a good chance to sell some DDGs into Vietnam’s feeding rations,” Tumbleson said. “This is a good opportunity because they have swine and swine is going to be their industry.”
McCauley agreed, noting the DDGs shipped separately in containers from the United States to Vietnam will be a good business. “Because they feed pork, we stressed the fact they need to work with their suppliers to make sure they’ll get what they need, because when you’re dealing with pork, you need to know what the DDG is composed of and what kind of process it’s been through.”
Vietnam ports are adequately structured to accept the containers from U.S. ships, the corn grower leaders noted.
Tumbleson and McCauley also noted a trend shift in China, where they saw a transition from corn exports to corn imports.
“They’re shifting from a corn exporter to a corn importer because their production isn’t increasing as much as they need it to domestically, and they need more corn,” said McCauley.
Tumbleson noted the trend is largely due to the small farms that can’t produce the quantities that China needs. “They don’t use biotechnology, and their farms are very small,” he explained. “If they changed their field size and used biotechnology, their production would be tremendous. But I don’t know if they’ll get to that.”
He added China’s farm programs pay farmers to stay in the countryside, limiting the amount of corn they can produce. Meanwhile, the country is expanding its processing capacity, currently at 100 percent, and will rely on corn imports to meet their growing needs.
As in the United States and elsewhere throughout the world, Tumbleson and McCauley noted a key concern expressed in both countries was adequate corn supplies. “The big thing was the concern in the export areas that we don’t have enough corn,” McCauley said. “Our message was that we do and I felt like we got that message conquered.”
In summarizing the joint mission, McCauley said he felt corn growers “added a lot” to the trip. “The Grains Council representatives are good at knowing the export side and the contacts where they took us. We as corn growers were there to back them up with the corn facts, and we’re the producers. I think we gave the trip a lot of credibility.”
While there is little market potential in New Zealand, Tumbleson said he learned a lot from the producers in that country, an agricultural product exporter. “The said they face the same problems as U.S. farmers,” Tumbleson said. “You’d think it would be different, but it’s really not.”