JOHNSTON, Iowa — This article was first published in the September 2017 issue of Iowa Corn Roots.
Protecting and maintaining our international relationships and keeping agricultural trades strong is of the utmost importance. Our relationships with international buyers need to remain healthy, and cultivating those relationships is something Iowa Corn, along with our partners, has been doing for a number of years. To promote these continued partnerships, we need to remain focused on buyer education and establishing customer loyalty.
Iowa Corn works with several trade partners to ensure that agricultural trade remains strong in a number of countries. The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) aim to protect and increase agriculture trade by keeping up and grow the red meat demand overseas. Their main goal is to increase the value and profitability of the U.S. beef, pork and lamb industries by enhancing demand for their products in export markets through a partnership of stakeholders like Iowa Corn Promotion Board.
One of the strategic priorities that USMEF focuses on is buyer education and loyalty. They work to educate buyers on the many attributes of U.S. red meat and red-meat products, building buyer loyalty to products from the United States. Throughout the year, USMEF sends delegates from Iowa Corn and other corn states overseas to talk trade and the importance of putting U.S. corn-fed meat on the world’s table. It is essential to facilitate these conversations and for key customers to meet the farmers producing their food.
To help overseas buyers gain first-hand experience, Iowa Corn hosts several trade teams throughout the year — leading tours through Iowa farms to showcase products and the farmers that produce it. On average, we host around 200 international visitors a year. These tours are a way of getting our feet in the door to form new relationships overseas. One of the larger trade team events is hosted by Iowa corn farmer Gordon Wassenaar on his farm in Prairie City, Iowa. Each summer, Gordon opens up his homestead to several international delegations so they can see his farm firsthand and meet with Iowa Corn farmer leaders along with other ag leaders from our state. Throughout the years, Gordon has opened his farm to thousands of international buyers to speak on biotechnology, farming practices and importance of trade — all for the sake of creating customer loyalty and building relationships.
Michael Fritch, Iowa Corn farmer leader and former I-LEAD Class 7 participant, traveled to meet with key customers in Japan and Korea to report on corn planting with the U.S. Grains Council (USGC).
“As a U.S. corn farmer, it is important to represent ourselves to the associations that are buying our products. The fact that we can sit down face-to-face and have those conversations is crucial, and the response to U.S. corn farmers and corn was very encouraging.”
Cultivating relationships — whether domestic or international — is a critical part of the trade industry. The more relationships that we can develop, the greater market share that our product is going to have. Our partnerships with organizations like USMEF and the U.S. Grains Council are pertinent to Iowa Corn because they open the door to those who are directly utilizing our product and create a space for conversations to happen.
— Iowa Corn Promotion Board
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