International grain buyers, farmers and agribusinesses spent the better part of the 2014 U.S. Soy Global Trade Exchange Tuesday and Wednesday in Mlwaukee, Wis., sharing ideas and making connections.
According to Minnesota Research & Promotion Council Chairman Paul Simonsen, that’s the way it should be.
“The value of the conference are the people who are here,” Simonsen said. “This conference gives us access to international people who we normally wouldn’t see unless we traveled oversees.”
Roughly 600 people descended on Milwaukee to learn about the state of the soybean industry as well as other grains, with messages on transportation, sustainability and food security. For farmers like Simonsen, the experience is invaluable.
“The amount of connections and networking that is done is really important,” he said. “This conference empowers our U.S. industry leaders a chance to connect and develop new ideas to reach our industry partners oversees.”
While soybeans were largely on everyone’s minds, an early panel Tuesday also highlighted the importance of diversity in the agriculture industry, not only domestically, but abroad as well.
Teresa Babuscio, Secretary General for COCERAL, says the culture of a business plays a big role in whether women can not only advance, but be taken seriously and contribute. Babuscio encourages women to seek out those companies and to aggressively pursue those positions.”
“Remain dependent in your way of thinking,” she told the audience. “Do not hesitate to challenge and express ideas, even if they are without cause and met with resistance.”
Mariela Urguia, First Vice President, AFACA, Venezuala Feed Manufacturers Association, says women continue to be hired or promoted into prominent roles, and for good reason.
“Our long careers show the strength of the work that can be done,” she said. “We’ve been able to move up the ladder and advance because of the hardwork we’ve done.”
Newly elected U.S. Soybean Export Council chairperson Laura Foell, of Iowa wrapped the Forum with an open plea to minorities and women in agriculture.
“Women and minorities represent new a different viewpoints that we don’t have right now,” she told the audience.
The conference wraps Wednesday, but the work building relatioinshs with international partners continues as approxiametly 55 buyers from SE Asia will continue their journey with a tour of a few Wisconsin facilities before a tour of the Mississippi River at Winona, stops at a pair of Minnesota farms, and presentations at the Minnesota Soybean office in Mankato.