Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Corn mission report from Japan

**I am also blogging for the Nebraska Corn Kernels and Grain Board blogs, so some of this information is duplicated from those blogs**

We made it safely to Tokyo, Japan for our first stop on the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) Corn Mission 2010 delegation. Today, the group met with U.S. Embassy Officials and several trade organizations and importers of U.S. corn and dried distillers grains (DDGS).

The two officials from the U.S. Embassy, Office of Agricultural Affairs were Geoffrey Wiggin, Agricultural Minister-Counselor and Jeff Nawn, Senior Agricultural Attache’. Wiggin and Nawn both commented that there has been positive open dialog between U.S. and Japanese regulators to have science as the basis of approvals in terms of biotech commodities, and have a food safety commission to do scientific reviews on policies for food safety. Both expressed the concern for feeding the world as population is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050.

Meetings with importers of U.S. corn and DDGS were important to share the message of an improved 2010 corn crop. The delegation met with the Japan Feed Trade Association (JFTA), Japan Feed Manufacturers Association (JFMA), Japan Starch and Sweeteners Industry Association (JSSIA), Japan Corn Grits Association (JCGA), and Japan Snack and Cereal Foods Association (JSCFA), where the delegation provided updates on U.S. corn production, supply and demand and impact of ethanol production and demand from emerging markets.

The major concern for all of the associations was the low quality of 2009 U.S. corn, in terms of vomitoxin, BCFM, moisture and protein content. The delegation confirmed any doubts about the 2010 crop to these organizations and assured that quality is much improved.

“Our 2009 crop was one of the worst years, in terms of quality to export, that farmers in the Corn Belt have ever seen, but we really believe we are back to producing better corn than ever and the future looks promising.” said Kent Kleinschmidt, of the Illinois Corn Marketing Board. “As U.S. corn producers were able to the get 2010 crop out in a timely manner and work the ground, we have an even more positive outlook for 2011’s corn crop.”

Tonight we ate Japanese "hot pot" for dinner. It was a very delicious variety of beef, pork, chicken, vegetables, rice noodles and tofu The boiling broths cook the meat and veggies, kind of like an Asian fondue. The portion on the left was traditional Japanese broth, and on the right was the spicy broth, which I preferred, to cook the meat and vegetables in.

Tomorrow we are taking a bullet train to Ishinomaki City to visit a feed mill and port where U.S. corn arrives.

Check out USGC's Flickr page for more pictures or follow members of the 2010 Corn Mission on Facebook and Twitter.

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