In his recent speech from the Presidential Palace in Santiago, Chile, President Obama reminded us that the United States exports “more than three times” as much to Latin America as China, and our exports to the region are growing faster than to any other part of the world.

The President’s words refocus attention on a critical and long-standing North-South partnership, one engendered by geographical proximity, cultural ties, and interdependent economies. As President Obama noted, “when Latin America is more prosperous, the United States is more prosperous.”

Several of the U.S. grain industry’s top export markets are in Latin America, along with several of the industry’s fastest growing markets and several trade allies, whose own policies directly impact the U.S. grain and ethanol industries. The U.S. grain industry is encouraged and excited by phenomenal market share growth in Peru from barely 10 percent two years ago to more than 35 percent, a market that could exceed $300 million in sales in the next few years as U.S. market share eclipses competitors.

New grain exports to Peru create new opportunities in the United States. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack noted in a recent speech that “farm exports alone will support more than 1.1 million jobs in 2011. “Brazil, now the seventh largest economy in the world, is also an economic powerhouse with agricultural abundance distinguished as one of the few countries with generous stores of available land for agricultural production. The U.S. and Brazil’s agricultural economies are intrinsically linked and our respective policy decisions will undoubtedly have mutual impact. It is critical that the U.S. grain industry cultivate this trade relationship as one of partnership, as President Obama noted, “I believe that in the Americas today, there are no senior partners and there are no junior partners, there are only equal partners.”