Bill Gordon, a soybean farmer from Worthington, concluded a whirlwind South America trade mission alongside fellow commodity leaders and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA).
Gordon’s delegation departed Colombia after two days in Bogotá, where he met with USDA Undersecretary for Trade Ted McKinney, the U.S. ambassador to Colombia, Colombia trade and agriculture officials and members of the country’s fats and oil industry.
“We only had about 36 hours in Lima, but we made the most of it,” Gordon said. “There were a lot of good discussions and visits.”
Gordon serves as the vice president of the American Soybean Association (ASA) and represented both the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA) and the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC). Gordon’s main objective was to increase U.S. exports to developing markets in South America.
Gordon along with MDA commissioner Thom Petersen and directors from Minnesota Pork, Turkey Growers, and Beef Council, met with the US Ambassador to Peru, Foreign Ag Service officials, USMEF reps and Peruvian buyers to learn more about Peru’s agriculture and economic climate. Gordon extended invites to Peruvian ag officials and FAS reps stationed in Lima.
“We had a great group with a broad sector of commodities represented,” said Commissioner Petersen. “In Peru, we learned about the growing need for protein and opportunities in their livestock feed, which was very interesting.”
In 2018, Peru imported $1.3 million tons of soybean meal, $310,000 whole soybeans and nearly 400,000 tons of soybean oil. Soybean meal consumption is projected to increase to $1.6 million tons by 2020, and is expected to continue growing as the Peruvian economy improves.
“With the low commodity prices and an ongoing trade war with China, this was an excellent time to connect with officials and buyers and make those connections that hopefully pay off for our farmers,” Petersen said. “These arrangements and purchasers ultimately help our farmers.”
On the delegation’s final day, the group toured Lima’s largest farmers market, which was 138 acres in size, along with the a pair of grocery markets. On its final stop, the delegation toured the Esmeralda Corportation, one of Peru’s top food processing companies. The group processes beef, chicken, pork, seafood, dairy, fruits & vegetables.
Gordon, who travels internationally often as part of his ASA position, says trade is a two-way street and, ultimately, about establishing relationships and building trust.
“These face-to-face meetings are so important,” he says. “Now, when Colombians and Peruvian officials think about soybeans, they’re going to think about Minnesota.”