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Monday, June 23, 2014

KyCorn Participates in Mission to Open Dialogue and Doors for EU Trade

KyCorn Executive Director Laura Knoth
stands in front of an Irish wheat field.
KyCorn Executive Director Laura Knoth and several other corn association executives traveled to Belgium, Spain, and Ireland last week with the US Meat Export Federation and the US Grains Council on a mission to discuss issues pertaining to meat and crop production, adoption of technology, and trade issues. Knoth said the dialogue with European farm organizations, food processors, and corn buyers was interesting and promising.

"GMO production and importation was a primary topic of discussion," said Knoth. "Farmers and farm organizations said they were frustrated with the rules and regulations in their countries, which were primarily based on public opinion, not science. They recognize that they are 25 years behind in technology, which presents many barriers to trade."

While the team was visiting, USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack also met with agriculture and trade officials in Europe to discuss expanding trade opportunities, specifically the importance of agriculture's role in the U.S.-European Union (EU) Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP), and the benefits the trade agreement will have to both the American and European economies. An agreement was reached to allow importation of Irish beef into America, and the ministers from the trade bloc's 28 member countries agreed in principle the prior week to empower any EU country to prohibit or restrict the growing of genetically modified crops on its territory. (Read more here:Kentucky.com or USDA.gov).

Iberian hams produced by Joselito in Guijuelo, Spain.
The pigs are finished on acorns to produce a unique flavor.
Several stops provided unique insight into the culture of EU food production. One meeting that was particularly promising for the US corn industry was with the group Abengoa, Spain's leading ethanol producer. Knoth said they were required to import corn that was certified sustainable by EU standards, as were many agricultural end users.

"End users must certify that they buy and use food produced with sustainable practices in order to reduce their carbon footprint," said Knoth. "These are practices that our farmers have been using for years, and we explained that some American elevators are providing sustainability certifications on grain. They are adopting programs similar to our Field To Market, and we could provide the corn they are looking for."

KyCorn directs corn checkoff annually to support US Grains Council and US Meat Export Federation programs to enhance trade of corn, corn co-products, and corn-fed meats.

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