LINCOLN, Neb. – As U.S. policy makers rethink the nation’s trade relationships around the world, a group of U.S. farmers recently visited South Korea to celebrate the 45th anniversary of one of the most successful trade relationships for American farmers.
Lynn Chrisp, a Hastings corn farmer and first vice president of the National Corn Growers Association, was part of the mission that recognized the 45-year presence of the U.S. Grains Council in South Korea. The delegation to South Korea included leaders from the National Corn Growers Association and the U.S. Grains Council. The U.S. Grains Council represents the interests of U.S. corn, barley, sorghum and their co-products around the world.
The joint mission met with top level officials and buyers, including the Korean Trade Minister and local cooperatives. Other stops included a local farm using U.S. grains, a grocery store and a major port.
South Korea recently jumped to become the third largest buyer of U.S. corn, with 8.32 million metric tons in the 2016/17 marketing year. South Korea is also the third largest export customer for U.S. distillers grains, setting a record for a second year.
During meetings, the team members discussed the importance of the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) as well as grain quality and promotion.
Chrisp said that South Korea is very interested in continuing a strong trade partnership with the U.S. “They’re not wanting to upset the applecart at all. They are in a position where they are wanting to maintain the agreements that are in place and establish new ones,” he said. “From their perspective, you can understand that. They have huge food requirements that their country just can’t keep up with. That’s primarily the interest of the United States’ agricultural sector…to do business and export to those folks.”
Chrisp noted there is significant opportunity for growth in exports to South Korea. “Their agriculture land there is predominantly utilized for vegetables, rice, beef, poultry and pork. We’re looking to supply them even more of the feed grain they need for their livestock operations,” Chrisp added. “That was one of the reasons why we were over there and why the U.S. Grains Council has done business with them for 45 years.”
Chrisp said the group had a very positive conversation with South Korea’s Chief Negotiating Officer, who was a Harvard graduate. “He was very, very, very pro-trade,” Chrisp said. “He was against anything that was protectionist. He saw the value of doing business around the world, because the needs of his country dictate that they establish good trade relationships.”