Editor's Note: Agri-Pulse and The Chicago Council on Global Affairs are teaming up to host a monthly column to explore how the U.S. agriculture and food sector can maintain its competitive edge and advance food security in an increasingly integrated and dynamic world.
When I left being a commodities trader to run the U.S. Grains Council's operations in Mexico, my role shifted from attracting new customers in a very dynamic marketplace to building programs to help those customers stabilize and grow their own operations.
Since stepping into the role of the Council’s CEO last summer, I have seen every day how our staff is taking up this mantel around the world, from the most developed grain markets in North Asia to those rapidly growing in Latin America and infant markets in East Africa.
With regard to stakeholders in global agricultural development, our model is a hybrid. We are fundamentally interested in building markets for our members - U.S. farmers and agribusinesses - that will last. We are charged to identify and address constraints to demand growth, whatever that may mean.
In practice, this often looks a lot like many of the activities undertaken by rural development or international aid programs, including offering educational opportunities about the basics of poultry management and fuel blending, helping our customers write contracts, clarifying infrastructure challenges and serving as a connecting mechanism between buyers and sellers who may otherwise find it hard to find and get to know one another.