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U.S. Grains Council focuses on trade

Council delegates gather in Washington for annual meeting.

Trade was topic of U.S. Grains Council delegates during the first day of the 57th Annual Board of Delegates Meeting in Vancouver, Washington, which is July 31 to Aug. 2, 2017.

“Every farmer needs to work to be a foreign policy expert as much as we are crop or market experts,” Chip Councell, USGC chairman and farmer from Maryland, told the delegation. “This meeting serves as part of an ongoing series of events and information that make up a ‘trade school’ meant to help you know as much as possible about these important topics.”

Darci Vetter, former chief agricultural negotiator with the U.S. Trade Representative, gave a keynote emphasizing the need for all in agriculture to not only understand the current trade environment, but also communicate its importance on the local, state and national levels. 

“All of you should consider yourselves ambassadors of trade,” Vetter said. “Recurring, persistent conversation about trade is what will turn the tide. We have to tell that story.”

The next two speakers discussed Frontier Asia and the current geopolitical environment. Yadong Liu, president of the China Energy Fund Committee, spoke on China’s increasing influence on global trade through the One Belt, One Road iniatitive. Dr. Stephen Haggard, director of the Korea-Pacific program at the University of California-San Diego, followed with an outline of developments in the Asia-Pacific region, focusing on the potential impacts of recent tensions with North Korea.

The morning general session concluded with a briefing from representatives from the Washington State Department of Agriculture on the important role commodity inspections play in keeping U.S. trade moving. A moderated boat tour of local export infrastructure followed. 

Through the next two days of meetings, discussions by Council members and delegates will continue to focus on the shifts in trade and trade policy discussions across commodities, sectors and countries around the world. 

“Trade is in a time of change, and that makes the work of the Council more important than ever,” Councell said. “It is good to see these issues getting the attention they deserve. What we are talking about here is critical to our profitability.”

Source: U.S. Grains Council

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