Jason Hafemeister is the acting deputy director for trade and foreign affairs with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the department tasked with providing leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and many other vital issues. Here’s what Jason had to say about the importance of foreign soybean buyers understanding the value of U.S. soybeans as a way to meet demand for food around the world.

Q: What’s the one thing international customers should know about U.S. agricultural products?

A: The U.S. is a reliable supplier of high-quality products.

Q: What’s the future of U.S. soy?

A: The United States is going to continue to be a great producer of soybeans. We have a great natural advantage in this country: good land, great farmers, great infrastructure, and we see a great demand for meat worldwide which U.S. soybean farmers can meet. We see more markets opening up overseas that will help us provide for new demand.

Q: What is the importance of bringing U.S. soy producers and international customers together?

A: It’s a really great opportunity whenever we can bring our exporters and producers into contact with overseas buyers. We have a great product here in the U.S., and when we have a chance to explain it and market it to potential customers, that’s an opportunity. We also want to develop relationships with buyers and sellers and introduce them to the infrastructure we have in the U.S.

Q: What would you want U.S. soybean farmers to know about the demand for the product they’re growing?

A: We are always reminding our producers about the importance of international trade to their bottom line. We export about 150 billion dollars’ worth of agricultural commodities a year. Exports are important to our farmers. We have customers overseas who are looking for high quality products and who are reliable buyers. To do business over a long distance, it’s important to have relationships – to know your buyer and seller.

Q: Any final thoughts?

A: Trade is so critical to U.S. agriculture that our ability to prosper as farmers is fundamental to keeping our rural communities vibrant. We in the government can help partner with our exporters to promote products overseas, we can help explain to buyers how the U.S. can meet their needs, and through trade we can help the U.S. and world economies by promoting economic growth and providing opportunities for people to eat more healthy, nutritious food. Helping people eat is one of the highest callings.