Tag Archives: US Grains Council

There are no rearview mirrors on the motorbikes in Ho Chi Minh City, as the saying goes, implying the Vietnamese people never look backward, but stay focused on the future.

That can-do, progressive attitude has established Vietnam as one of the fastest growing feed markets in the world with attendant increases in demand for meat, milk and eggs from a middle class growing in number and influence.

An on-the-ground presence is extremely important in Vietnam, where government policies and market situations can change quickly. Caleb Wurth, U.S. Grains Council (USGC) assistant director for Southeast Asia, recently spent three weeks traveling throughout the country to assess the impact of African Swine Fever (ASF) virus on local swine production and overall feed demand for corn and dried distiller’s grains with solubles (DDGS) as well as inform the Council’s overall strategic approach.

Wurth discovered Vietnamese producers are wasting no time in retooling their operations as the virus has affected a large portion of their swine herds. He observed farmers culling herd and clearing barns to make them ready for layers, broilers or ducks in the same space the next week. Farmers are also expanding into aquaculture – in both freshwater ponds in the delta region and offshore in cages along the coast.

“The extensive losses in swine production are being partially offset by increases in poultry and off-shore cage aquaculture,” Wurth said. “In response, the Council has begun working with local feed mills and DDGS importers to assist farms devastated by ASF to switch to poultry, layer or duck farming rather than give up meat production altogether.”

If an effective vaccine is discovered, however, the Council expects to see farmers revert to a similar pre-ASF protein mix, reinforcing the need to maintain both long-term efforts – like working to increase DDGS inclusion rates – and frontier market work – including hiring a full-time aquaculture specialist for the region through funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Trade Promotion (USDA’s ATP) program. Both pieces are necessary to successfully pivot alongside animal industries in Vietnam and throughout Southeast Asia.

“Vietnam is just one of the markets in Southeast Asia with tremendous potential,” Wurth said. “As programming pivots to address shifting market demands, the Council will continue to leverage the success of its programs, people and partnerships to cultivate significant sales of U.S. feed grains, ethanol and co-products.”

In less than a decade, Vietnam has grown from a top 10 to a top three corn importer in the world. The country is a significant importer of both U.S. corn and DDGS with additional future potential for U.S. sorghum. That same rising middle class is also creating additional demand for ethanol, aided by a nationwide E5 blend mandate expected to grow to E10.

These factors combine to make Vietnam a focus of the Council’s work to capture increasing demand for feed grains and ethanol export volumes for U.S. farmers and agribusinesses in Southeast Asia.

David Gibson has spent a lifetime working in agriculture, from raising and racing quarter horses to his current position as the executive director of Texas Corn Producers. The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) recognized Gibson for 20 years of service in this role during the organization’s 59th Annual Board of Delegates Meeting this week in Cincinnati, Ohio.

“I’ve worn many hats throughout my professional career, yet kept a tie to agriculture through it all,” Gibson said. “From my days as an extension agent to managing my region’s grain elevator, I now have 20 years of service – and counting – with Texas Corn Producers.

“What I appreciate about the Council is that it’s a producer-led organization, where producers and staff from across the nation work together to achieve common goals. At the end of the day, we’ve got to remember our work is for the hardworking agricultural producers that are the lifeblood of our economy.”

Gibson has worked to increase the presence of his board members in the Council, doubling participation at Council meetings, on USGC Advisory Teams (A-teams) and on trade missions. Within Texas, he has worked to directly connect his producers with their customers overseas by coordinating trade team visits.

“My most rewarding experiences have been setting up a variety of trade team visits to the state,” Gibson said. “When teams come to Texas, they have the opportunity to gain a broader perspective of the intricacies of the agricultural industry – from the corn field to feedlots and dairies to ethanol plants and even to one of the busiest ports in the country.”

Gibson recalled members from a team whose home country’s animal health regulations differed vastly from the U.S. system. He said it was interesting to see the team gain firsthand experience with the high level of care and requirements the United States places on securing the wellbeing of livestock.

The Council’s work to open, maintain and expand markets through activities like trade teams and advocating for market access is highly visible in Texas, where farmers can deliver grain to elevators on the border or direct to port facilities for other international destinations.

“To me, the overarching purpose of the Council is to build world demand for grains and keep the doors open to all our trading partners,” Gibson said. “The work of the Council is of the utmost importance to our producers, especially in the southern portion of Texas, as many market directly into Mexico.

“When the Mexican trade market is open and operating at a steady pace, our Texas farmers benefit from our checkoff’s and association’s ongoing support of the Council working to keep these markets open.”

When he is not hard at work on behalf of Texas corn farmers, Gibson said to look for him managing cattle or enjoying time with his six grandchildren.

Please join the Council in thanking Gibson for 20 years of service!