I recently had the opportunity to travel to Brazil to participate in the XXIst International Oilseeds Producers Dialogue (IOPD) on behalf of the U.S. Soy industry. This conference, which ran from June 25 to 28, provides international participants with the opportunity to meet with oilseed producers from other countries, giving us a chance to discuss issues of common interest and to develop partnerships. This kind of cooperation helps provide support for key market issues.
In addition to building international markets, U.S. Soy needs market access for trade. IOPD provides a chance for U.S. Soy delegates to discuss international trade dynamics and build relationships with like-minded organizations from around the world.
As a U.S. farmer, market access has long been of vital importance to me. It’s one of the reasons that I believe so strongly in farmers coming together to speak as one voice on issues that affect all stakeholders in the soy value chain. This is why my fellow growers and I volunteer for a number of boards at the local, state, and national level. To me, it’s clear that collaboration is the only way to make things happen. That’s true whether you’re working with your peers on the next farm over or on another continent.
For this particular mission, I traveled with two of my fellow farmers. John Heisdorffer serves as the president of the American Soybean Association (ASA) as well as a former U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) director. Lewis Bainbridge is the chairman of the United Soybean Board (USB).
John and Lewis believe as I do that working together and having a dialogue with farmers and associations from other countries can get things accomplished that we might not be able to do as one.
This year’s IOPD was held in Mato Grosso, Brazil’s largest soybean-producing state. The meetings themselves took place in Cuiaba, the state capital. In addition to host country Brazil, six countries gave overviews of the industry in their country, including the EU, Germany, France, Paraguay, the U.S., and Canada. Countries shared perspectives on key issues, including international trade and the global regulatory environment for new breeding technologies. Through robust dialogue to address common challenges, our countries are working together to meet the needs of the future.
We also had the opportunity to visit a biodiesel production plant and a corn ethanol production plant in the city of Lucas do Rio Verde, followed by a visit to the city of Sorriso, where we visited a soybean crushing plant and a farm.
Each year, IOPD provides the opportunity to learn and understand the issues that are important to our fellow oilseed producers within their respective countries around the world. As producers and as competitors, we have similarities with common challenges, but what is most important to understand, I believe, is how we might view possible solutions differently.
The three of us farmers from the U.S. agree that although people in other countries might not have the same challenges as we do, it’s important to remember that we all have our struggles. The friendships and relationships that we’re building with key individuals around the world could be of great value sometime in the future when we need to work together.