For the last two weeks, members of the Iowa Corn Leadership Enhancement and Development (I-LEAD) program participated in an international agricultural trade mission to South Korea and Vietnam. The delegation spent two weeks meeting with government officials, customers, industry experts, and farmers to discuss export market development for four of Iowa's main agriculture commodities; corn, soybeans, pork and beef.
In South Korea, class members learned that food demand is expanding but the amount of available land to raise crops and livestock is decreasing. "In 2009, South Korea imported $19.8 billion worth of agriculture products, 23.6% of which was from the United States," says Neil Bouray, I-LEAD class member from Randolph in southwest Iowa. "As South Korea's demand for food grows, the United States and Iowa, have an excellent opportunity to export more to them, especially if the Korea Free Trade Act is passed."
Opportunities to sell more Iowa-produced DDGs overseas
In Vietnam, class members had the chance to learn about market development opportunities for many of the ag products the U.S. produces, especially Dried Distillers Grains from corn. "Vietnam's population continues to grow, as does their demand for meat products," says Chris Edgington, I-LEAD class member and farmer from St. Ansgar. "Feed costs are large for livestock producers and DDGs from Iowa offer a low cost replacement for corn."
The foreign study mission helped class members learn about the world food and fiber system and helped them develop a deeper appreciation for the views of international customers, says Don Mason, director of grower services for the Iowa Corn Growers Association, which coordinates and helps sponsor the I-LEAD program.
What is I-LEAD, who can participate, when can you sign up?
Participants in the I-LEAD mission included: Lowell Appleton, Sanborn, O'Brien County; Neil Bouray, Randolph, Fremont County; Cathy and Scott Brown, Columbus Junction, Louisa County; Will Cannon, Newton, Jasper County; Chris Clark, Ida Grove, Ida County; Klint Cork, Galva, Ida County; Devin Dutilly, Ames, Story County; Chris Edgington, St. Ansgar, Mitchell County; Kurt Hora, Washington, Washington County; Darcy Maulsby, Lake City, Calhoun County, Cody McKinley, Ankeny, Polk County; Todd Mikkelsen, Cedar Falls, Black Hawk County; Derek Prostine, Clarksville, Butler County; Jason Robinson, Baxter, Jasper County; Michael Schon, Spencer, Clay County; Suzanne Shirbroun, Farmersburg, Clayton County; Dustin Vande Hoef, Des Moines, Polk County; Roger Vander Veen, Harley, O'Brien County; Chris Weydert, Algona, Kossuth County; Tim Recker, Arlington, Fayette County; Don Mason, Granger, Dallas County; and Claire Masker, Urbandale, Polk County.
The Iowa Corn I-LEAD program is a two-year program to provide Iowa's talented men and women with the tools they need to succeed as leaders and spokespeople for agriculture, says Mason. The I-LEAD program is sponsored by the Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB) and the Iowa Corn Growers Association, "because our corn organizations recognize that the future of Iowa agriculture depends on developing new leaders who share the same passion for generations to come," he adds.
If you are interested in applying for the next I-LEAD class, contact the Iowa Corn Growers Association office at 515-225-9242 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.