Ohio Corn Marketing Program (OCMP) board member, Keith Truckor of Metamora, Ohio, and a group of farmers from two corn states recently traveled to Japan to meet with customers and share crop progress updates direct from the farm, interactions that are critical to ongoing sales in those mature corn markets.
The in-person visits allowed farmers a unique opportunity to thank customers, an important interaction in the trust-building process of international trade. Trade missions help educate and familiarize each participant in the marketing chain about the circumstances and environment in which they operate, while providing opportunities to engage with new users and buyers.
Crop quality, particularly broken corn and foreign material (BCFM) measurements, was top of mind for customers in Japan. Several meetings included specific discussions about crop quality concerns, information that the corn states’ checkoff programs can use to enhance ongoing efforts to assess and improve corn quality.
“Japan is a major buyer of corn and corn products and other commodities that we as U.S. farmers produce. This mission was all about customer relations,” Truckor said. “We listened to concerns and issues they had about our products and provided answers.”
In Japan, the group met in Tokyo with JA Zen Noh, a major grain handler and exporter. Zen Noh and partner organizations also arranged meetings in the rural north of the country, where the farmer team was able to visit a cattle operation, a major mill and a port that serves as one of a handful of strategic bulk ports for the nation.
While in Tokyo, the team was hosted by several representatives of major feed companies at the Japanese Feed Manufacturers Association’s offices, and the farmers spoke to nearly 140 individuals from the trade, feed industry organizations and the media at a corn progress conference.
Truckor’s presentation highlighted his investment in technology to remain a reliable and consistent producer of corn.
While quality was the hottest topic of discussion, each meeting and conference also went in-depth about production practices and crop progress. Customers in Japan were excited to hear up-to-the-minute information about moisture, crop growth and production estimates directly from producers who could explain the technology they use on their farms.
The mission was organized by the U.S. Grains Council, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing profitability for U.S. farmers through export market development.