Cary Sifferath, USGC Regional Director for the Middle East and Africa; John Hinners, USMEF Assistant Vice President of Industry Relations; Lyndsey Erb-Sharkey, USGC Director of Industry Relations; Jim Zook, Michigan Corn Executive Director; Felipe Macias USMEF Country Director for Spain; and John Brooks, USMEF Regional Director for Europe, Russia, Middle East and Africa; gather for a photo during the tour of Iberian Ham.
Commodity executives from across the country, who represent the corn sector, recently returned from touring three countries in the European Union, Belgium, Spain and Ireland. The trip was pulled together by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) and the US Grains Council (USGC). These two organizations are supported by the Corn Marketing Program of Michigan along with other states and other companies. The goal of these organizations is to help facilitate trade and get our products into the foreign marketplace.
The trip started in Brussels, Belgium where, to our surprise, all the agencies that we met with were supportive of the need for new technologies and the benefits that GMOs can bring to their countries. The issue with GMOs lies at the governmental level and approvals are still pending from those agencies. The tour took us to meetings with the association that represents all cereal, oilseed, olive oil and fats producers, as well as agricultural suppliers. We then met with the European Feed Manufacturers, Food and Drink Association, the Confederation for Agri-Food Cooperatives, and the European Livestock and Meet Trading Union. The group also toured a very progressive swine operation where they have adapted new air cleaning and farrowing technology.
Upon leaving Belgium, we traveled to Spain to meet with a producer who raises and processes pork, predominantly hams. The producer/processor produces Iberian Ham, which comes from the Joselito are in Spain. What is unique about these hams is that the hogs are finished on a ration of acorns. After the hams have been cured for over two years, they fetch a healthy price of nearly $1,200 per ham.
The final leg of the trip was to Ireland. In Ireland, they have put together a marketing campaign called Origin Green. In this program they try to connect the consumer with producers who are promoting sustainability in their operations.
The plan is to show improvement on the producers operations at the time that they enroll. It does not mean at the time of enrollment that they are sustainable, but rather that they will work towards sustainability. The group then met with the Irish Grain and Feed Association, and finished the day with a reception at the US Ambassador's Residence where we participated in the evenings events with US Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack.
The last stop was a tour of a wheat, oats and barley farm. This producer is a large farm for them at 650 acres. What is interesting is that the belief of the producers in the EU is that the average US farm size is two to three times this acreage when in reality, according to the latest ag census, the average is roughly 434 acres.
The trip was very beneficial for the United States as it helped all of the attendees understand where the roadblocks to approval of our different varieties and traits lies. The staff that both USMEF and USGC have in the European Union is, and has been, doing a great job in facilitating trade to those countries. The support that is provided to those organizations from growers across the country is worthwhile to keep those marketing channels open and available.
On the Move at Ag Expo
Michigan Corn is excited to announce that we are moving to a new location for the 2014 Ag Expo. Our new space will feature a tent and plot space that is shared with the Michigan Soybean Office.
The 2014 Ag Expo will take place July 22-24 at Michigan State University. Hours for this year's event will be different and the show will now run from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday; and from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday.
In our new location we will have a small plot that shows the history of corn and advancements that have been made in technology over the years. In addition, there will be highlights provided on many of our current and past research projects. As always, there will be membership and ethanol information, including Kettering University's ethanol-powered snowmobile; freshly popped popcorn; and Captain Cornelius will make appearances each day.
Be sure to mark your calendars for the following events: