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Published: Friday, 12/16/2011

Farmers urged to improve trade ties

China, Vietnam, Japan considered big targets

Wood County farmer  Paul Herringshaw aims to help develop more export markets for U.S. grains. Wood County farmer Paul Herringshaw aims to help develop more export markets for U.S. grains.

Corn growers in the United States enjoy robust exports, though trade associations say it's important to continue building and improving those relationships, especially in China and other Asian countries.

"The growth potential over there is astounding," said Jack Irvin, a spokesman for the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association. "If farmers here in Ohio are going to remain successful, they have to have a healthy and open trade market for themselves.

"We can produce way more than we can consume here domestically," Mr. Irvin said.

And that's precisely the reason Paul Herringshaw just spent a little over a week meeting with importers, government officials, swine producers, and others in Japan, Vietnam, and China.

A Bowling Green area farmer, Mr. Herringshaw is on the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association board and represented the group on the trip organized by the U.S. Grains Council, a private, nonprofit corporation that helps develop export markets for U.S. grains.

"Some of these end-buyers and end-users kind of like to talk to some of the growers from the U.S. to get a feel for what's going on and voice some concerns they may have about our crop," he said, noting that Japanese buyers were concerned with the summer spike in U.S. corn prices.

Mr. Herringshaw was joined by eight other growers from seven states and Marri Carrow, a representative from the U.S. Grains Council.

"It's really great to have the opportunity to meet with our international customers, and end users, and policy decision makers to continue that face-to-face relationship building. In Asia, that relationship is how they base a lot of purchasing decisions," Ms. Carrow said.

In return, the growers return with insights into the demands and purchasing needs of their international customers.

The major question is China, Mr. Herringshaw said. "According to the importers, there was a significant demand that I think would have an impact on the corn market in the United States," he said.

However, the Chinese government more tightly controls the amount of corn that can be imported into the country than other Asian governments.

If those controls were to be loosened, the Grains Council believes it could be a boon for American growers.

Mr. Herringshaw said the information he and the other delegates gathered will be shared with their respective associations.

Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at: tlinkhorn@theblade.com or 419-724-6134.

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