By Issa Yussuf
Developing new markets for soybeans and soy products around the world is good for U.S. and South American farmers alike, and India holds enormous potential as a new market for soybean exports.
For more than 10 years, U.S. soybean farmers have invested their checkoff dollars to fund reverse marketing activities in India implemented by the American Soybean Association International Marketing team.
Now, for the first time in history, U.S. farmers are preparing for a Dec. 8-17, 2006, joint trade mission with growers from South America.
"A partnership between farmers in the U.S. and farmers in South America allows us to work together to open up new markets," said United Soybean Board (USB) Chairman Curt Raasch, a soybean producer from Odebolt, Iowa. "As part of the partnership, soybean farmers from the United States, Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina will be traveling to India to see firsthand what the U.S. soybean checkoff is doing to promote soybean use in India."
India has the second-largest population in the world and is expected to surpass China in numbers by 2040. Today, India's per capita soybean meal consumption is less than one-tenth that of China. Reverse marketing strategies could result in significant growth for soybean farmers.
"Cooperation between U.S. and South American soybean farmers will make it easier to deal with market access issues including non-tariff barriers, phytosanitary issues, chemical residue limits, acceptance of biotechnology, and excessive duties on soybean products," said American Soybean Association (ASA) Chairman Bob Metz, a soybean producer from West Browns Valley, S. Dak.
"This is a farmer-driven initiative that will encourage other farmers to shift their thinking to a single, global market for soybeans."
South American soybean growers will participate in this joint trade mission with U.S. growers to explore opportunities for joint and their own market development activities in India.
"Exports are important to South American farmers just like U.S. farmers. In Paraguay, we export 98 percent of our production," said Jorge Heisecke, president of Camara Paraguaya de Exportadores de Cereales y Oleaginosas (CAPECO).
"The time has come for South American growers to partner with the U.S. in reverse marketing efforts in India by funding activities like feed technology workshops, marketing support, soyfoods training programs and others."
Grower agreements for joint activities have already been signed between the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) and grower organizations in Paraguay and Argentina.
"U.S. soybean farmers have proven that programs like this can increase their competitiveness and market share worldwide," said USSEC Chief Executive Officer Dan Duran. "Consider China, a country that was at one point a net exporter of soybeans, but now, in part due to reverse marketing efforts by U.S. soybean farmers, it has become the largest importer of U.S. soybeans."
In addition to Raasch, Metz and Duran, U.S. participants are USB Chair International Marketing Committee Benny Cooper, USB Competitiveness Committee Chair Mark Pietz, USB Emerging Markets Subcommittee Chair Sharon Covert, ASA Executive Committee Member Johnny Dodson, ASA Communications Director Bob Callanan, and USSEC Director Global Issues and Alliances Craig Ratajczyk.
In addition to Heisecke, participants from Paraguay are CAPECO Foreign Trade Adviser Sonia Tomassone and Associacion de Productores de Soja (APS) President Claudia Russer; from Argentina, Associacion de la Cadena de la Soja Argentina (ACSOJA) President Rodolpho Rossi, and International Negotiations for Agriculture, Institute Executive Director Ernesto S. Liboreiro; and from Brazil, Associacao dos Produtores de Soja do Mato Grosso (APROSOJA) President Rui Carlos Ottoni Prado, APROSOJA Administrative Director Ricardo Tomczyk, APROSOJA Vice Administrative Director Ricardo Arioli Silva, APROSOJA Treasurer Era' Maggi, FACS (Brazil's "check-off" program) Member Valdir Correa da Silva, and Mato Grosso State Secretary of Agriculture Cloves Vettorato.