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(WASHINGTON)– A new study shows access to international export markets for U.S. grains supported nearly $38 billion in business sales in the U.S. economy during 2016 beyond the value of the products themselves.

The analysis commissioned by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) found a total economic impact of U.S. grains exports of $55 billion that year, supporting 271,000 jobs directly or indirectly. These sales supported U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) by $19 billion over what would have occurred without such exports.

The analysis dives deep into the benefits to farmers, rural communities and the nation as a whole derived from overseas sales driven by strong trade policy and robust in-country market development for grains and grains products.

“Every sale counts for farmers, especially in this market, and this analysis shows just how much the grain sector is supported by regular and growing purchases from our overseas customers,” said Jim Stitzlein, the Council’s chairman. “These numbers out today take the analysis one step further to look at the whole economy, in our rural and farm communities but also in cities where people have jobs transporting, processing and shipping ag products.”

Informa Agribusiness Consulting conducted the study, which examined the economic contributions to each state and 52 congressional districts from exports of corn, barley, sorghum, ethanol, distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS), corn gluten feed and meal as well as the corn equivalent of meat on the U.S. economy. The new study is an update to similar research done with 2014 and 2015 data, showing similar results.

Breaking down the numbers, these results showed every $1 of grain exports supported an additional $2.20 in business sales. Every job directly created by the export of grain and grain products supported an additional 3.9 jobs in the United States.

These indirect and induced business activities extend well beyond the agricultural industry, including the wholesale trade, real estate, oil and natural gas and service sectors.

“While corn growers can see first-hand the value our product provides to our local communities, this study demonstrates the positive economic impact we provide beyond our fields. Breaking the data down into individual states and Congressional districts will help us better inform legislators as we advocate for new market opportunities for U.S. corn,” said NCGA President Lynn Chrisp.

View an interactive map of the study results and the full report.

The U.S. Grains Council’s (USGC’s) Board of Directors has named Council Director in Mexico Ryan LeGrand as its next president and chief executive officer, effective mid-June.

“We are very pleased to announce the selection of Ryan LeGrand as the Council’s new president and CEO,” said USGC Chairman Jim Stitzlein. “His steadfast and level-headed leadership comes at a critical time amid challenges around the world for U.S. trade and a rapidly growing program of Council activities in markets that show potential for new demand.”

The Council is a non-profit export market development organization that promotes the global use of U.S. corn, sorghum, barley and related products including ethanol and distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS).

LeGrand joined the organization in Mexico in 2015 and has served as the director of the Council’s Mexico City office since 2016. In this capacity, he has overseen the expansion of the Council’s programming in that country to include ethanol promotion and worked to steady relations with the U.S. and Mexican feed and livestock industries during the negotiations of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

“I am honored to have been selected for this role at the Council and look forward to expanding trade opportunities for the grain, ethanol and related products we promote around the world,” LeGrand said. “The American farmer works extremely hard each year to produce quality crops, and I look forward to working with our members and staff to continue our mission of opening, maintaining and defending foreign markets.”

During his tenure with the Council in Mexico, LeGrand has also led efforts for U.S. grains including increasing U.S. DDGS demand, cultivating both large and small craft brewers to purchase more U.S. barley and encouraging sorghum use by Mexican livestock producers.

LeGrand previously worked for Gavilon as the director of ingredients in Mexico, located in Guadalajara, managing the company’s feed ingredients trading, import and distribution throughout the country. LeGrand also served as the director of exports for Hawkeye Gold, LLC, exporting DDGS to Latin America and Asia. Early in his career, he worked a year in the Council’s Washington office as a manager of international operations.

LeGrand holds a bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma State University in international business.

“Ryan has shown dedication to measured growth for U.S. grains and co-products in Mexico, our most important export market and neighbor,” Stitzlein said. “We are certain the Council is in good hands with Ryan’s confident leadership and look forward to working with him in this new role.”

A consistent flow of information combined with more than three decades of relationship building are bolstering market opportunities in Saudi Arabia. As part of these efforts, U.S. Grains Council (USGC) staff traveled to the Kingdom in late March to promote U.S. corn, sorghum and co-products during meetings with key buyers and end-users.

The trade servicing mission augments the connections made last fall during the Council’s largest biennial buyers conference, Export Exchange, held in Minneapolis in October 2018. The Council organized an eight-member team from Saudi Arabia to attend the meeting, providing opportunities for participants to develop closer business relationships with members of the U.S. grains industry and gain additional insights into the U.S. grain export value chain.

“Saudi Arabia is considered a growing, but competitive, market for the Council,” said Ramy Taieb, USGC regional director for the Middle East and Africa. “Follow-up visits and meetings with major importers are essential for the growth of U.S. grain exports to this market.”

Saudi Arabia is a large and expanding market with highly concentrated dairy and poultry industries. Fifteen farms control 80 percent of the poultry market, and nine farms control 85 percent of the dairy market. Imports represent an increasing portion of the feed rations for these animals. Last marketing year, Saudi Arabia ranked as the tenth largest overall buyer of U.S. corn, importing 1.49 million metric tons (58.7 million bushels) in addition to 280,000 tons (11 million bushels) of U.S. sorghum and 13,000 tons of U.S. dried distiller’s grains with solubles (DDGS). Saudi Arabia also imported 16.5 million gallons of U.S. ethanol.

Potential opportunities are also being created for U.S. feed grains and co-products as the Saudi government shifts policies to reduce subsidized barley imports and domestic wheat production as part of water conservation initiatives. In Saudi Arabia, the government’s feed subsidy structure is the major driving force behind what grains, co-products and forages are imported by the Saudi feed, livestock and poultry industries. The Council worked to obtain inclusion of DDGS, corn gluten feed and other U.S. commodities on this import subsidy list. As the government continues to revise these subsidy rates, more imported corn or sorghum could replace other feed ingredients in animal feed rations.

“This policy change bodes well for an already growing market,” Taieb said. “The Council will continue to monitor these developments and adjust marketing programs as these policy changes begin to re-shape traditional feed grain import patterns.”

The Council will continue to work with buyers and end-users in Saudi Arabia to provide a consistent flow of information about the U.S. grain trade, supply and demand factors, quality and more to create a long and strong relationship between major feed grain importing companies and U.S. producers.

Funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP) program is helping expand this engagement, by adding promotions of sorghum and DDGS in Saudi Arabia; bringing large importers and end-users to a buyers conference in Europe this summer; and organizing a team of Saudi buyers and end-users to travel to the United States this fall.

“The Council is very active in responding to market promotion opportunities in Saudi Arabia,” Taieb said. “Saudi Arabia is the largest U.S. corn buyer in the region, and we need to continue building on this success.”