"When I stood in the lunch line at junior high, high school and college, I knew at the end of the line there would be food available. And as an American, I know there will always be food available. The Chinese people we met did not share that same experience. They are unsure if there will be enough food to go around. This trip has opened my eyes to the real world and I will use this experience in my future career choices," said Amy Berry, senior at the University of Wyoming, at the U.S. Grains Council's 49th Annual Board of Delegates Meeting in San Diego, Calif., July 20.
Berry and Michelle Euken, seniors at Iowa State University, told more than 300 attendees of their "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity they were afforded as participants of the recent International Collegiate Agricultural Leadership annual mission to Vietnam and China. Twelve top U.S. agricultural students from eight different states were selected for this year's I-CAL program, a cooperative effort of The Grains Foundation and the National FFA Organization intended to help educate future agricultural leaders about export market development.
"Every minute was filled with learning about agriculture and the importance of global trade," said Berry as she told attendees about the Council's fresh fish and food market programs in Vietnam. "The Vietnamese fish farmers were afraid that using U.S. DDGS, distillers dried grains with solubles, a co-product of ethanol production, would cause their fish to have a more yellowish color. After many seminars, feeding trials and onsite consultations, the Council was able to get local feedmills to provide DDGS and assist the local farmers in using the value-added product. I'm just a cowgirl from Wyoming. I had no idea these programs existed and of the vital work the Council does in market development."
Euken spoke of the need China and Vietnam have for U.S. grain commodities.
"China is a large country with many resources, which gives them a lot of bargaining power. However, their inconsistent government regulations to control backyard farming operations has hindered its control of arable land," Euken said. "This mission has changed my perception of the world. We have to embrace free trade and establish relationships in order to move commodities. Having my eyes opened to the world that you all work in was pretty amazing. I now understand the importance of market development and will continue to promote U.S. agricultural trade in my personal and professional career."¬
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