Mexican importers looking for new business
By LARRY KERSHNER
ELLSWORTH/AMES – They came. They looked about. They left business cards.
A bevy of representatives of major Mexican grain importers passed through central Iowa in late October en route to the U.S. Grains Council Export Exchange in Detroit, Michigan.
The grain buyers’ Iowa visit was sponsored jointly by Iowa Corn Growers Association and the Iowa Economic Development Council.
On Oct. 19 they visited Landus Cooperative, in Farnhamville, the largest farmer-owned local agriculture cooperative in Iowa; and then the POET ethanol plant in Gowrie; then Pro Cooperative, in Havelock; and a tour of the Jerry and Brandon Maier farm in Eagle Grove.
“As the largest buyer of U.S. corn, Mexico continues to be a bright spot for U.S. ag exports,” said Jerry Maier, an ICGA director. “U.S. corn exports reached a record high this marketing year.
Our Mexican grain and feed buyers rely on the quality and availability of U.S. corn and distiller’s grains which are shipped directly from states like Iowa keeping transportation cost low.
“We look forward to further expanding this important market in the future.”
On Oct. 20, the team visited MaxYield Cooperative, in Belmond, and Corn LP, in Goldfield; then Ag Partners feed mill, in Ellsworth, and a “meet the buyers” session with Iowa grain, feed and equipment suppliers.
On Oct. 21, the team visited Innovative Ag, in Hubbard, followed by a visit to ICGA Director Denny Friest’s farm in Radcliffe, and a tour of the nearby Heartland Cooperative.
In the 2015/2016 marketing year, an estimated 13.3 million tons of U.S. corn were exported to Mexico, a 17 percent increase from the previous year of 11.3 million tons and a 75 percent increase from 2010/2011. In addition, distillers grains experienced a 19 percent increase from the previous marketing year, increasing from 1.59 million tons to an estimated 1.9 million tons.
T.J. Page, market development manager for ICGA, accompanying the trade delegation, said ICGA values the chance to partner with IED to meet the people who buy U.S. grain, especially Iowa’s corn.
“It’s a good partnership,” he said, and gives ICGA member farmers and ag businesses, the opportunity to meet face-to-face with the buyers.
“Events like this are necessary,” Page said, “because we have to find more markets.”
Keith Heim, chief executive officer for MaxYield Cooperative, said the meeting with buyers was “exploratory,” checking to see if there was any way new business can be conducted.
Heim said MaxYield has strong business contacts in Mexico, especially with those represented by that evening’s delegation.
“We are always interested in another market,” said MaxYield’s Harry Bormann, grain team leader. “Before ethanol, 80 percent of our corn was moved by rail. Now, it’s 50 percent.”
The capability of Iowa to load unit trains of corn, DDGs or soybeans and ship directly to Mexico is a boon for the largest supplier of those commodities, and one of the largest customers of them.
Heim said MaxYield has shipped two unit trains to Mexico so far this year.
Commodity traders Nicolas Pino and Martin McManus, with ADM-Des Moines, agreed the import-export relationship with Iowa and Mexico is strong.
Pino said the trade delegates “are happy to put faces to names. This humanizes business; it’s not just a company.”
Don Mason, director of grower services for ICGA, confirmed that meetings like these have resulted in increased sales for Iowa companies.
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