Minneapolis - The challenges and opportunities surrounding transportation of U.S. feed grains to end-users in countries around the world was the topic of conversation at Export Exchange 2018 Wednesday. Export Exchange is a biennial educational and trade forum for U.S. feed grains that will host attendees from both the U.S. and various countries organized into 21 USGC trade teams. The teams will meet with U.S. suppliers and get a chance to learn about current supply and demand for U.S. feed products. Co-sponsored by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC), Growth Energy and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), Export Exchange 2018 offers attendees an unparalleled opportunity to meet and build relationships with domestic suppliers of corn, distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS), sorghum, barley and other commodities. "Export Exchange is an opportunity to demonstrate just how amazing the streamlined and efficient U.S. value chain is," said Jim Stitzlein, USGC chairman. "We want to show potential buyers just how it allows grain grown on thousands of farms to be harvested, collected and commingled at elevators, then transported by barge or rail to terminal elevators, further combined, and then loaded for delivery to foreign destinations. We are absolutely committed to working with our international customers, drawing on our inherent strengths to get them what they want when they need it." After welcome remarks by Growth Energy Senior Vice President of Global Markets Craig Willis, attendees received a U.S. trade policy briefing from Dan Pearson, former chairman of the U.S International Trade Commission (ITC) and principal at Pearson International Trade Services. "There is reason for optimism. Reason will prevail over instinct and economics will win in the end," Pearson told attendees. "U.S. agriculture will continue to be a reliable supplier of ag commodities over the long run to countries around the world. The world needs U.S. agriculture and the U.S. needs the world." Each speaker emphasized that the U.S. is open for business and ready to work with global partners around the world to meet the growing coarse grains and co-product needs of populations overseas. "Biofuels are gaining popularity across the globe as more and more countries begin to adopt them as a way to combat emissions and keep fuel prices low for consumers," Willis said. "The past 12 months have seen the highest amount of ethanol exports in history, and this year's Export Exchange is the perfect place to tell our story and showcase the benefits that American-made ethanol and its co-products can bring to global marketplaces." Florentino Lopez, executive director of the United Sorghum Checkoff Program, also updated attendees on the outlook for U.S. sorghum. The balance of the meeting focused on trade programs and global grain transportation concerns. "With U.S. DDGS exports shipped to five continents last year, transportation is an essential part of the conversation here at Export Exchange," said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. "We want to ensure our industry can deliver DDGS and other ethanol co-products to our current and new customers in the international market." Mark Slupek, deputy administrator, Office of Trade Programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service addressed attendees on the Department's perspective on trade programs and how they work in a changing trading environment. "The message I want to bring to you today is American agriculture is open for business, and USDA is all in," said Slupek. "We operate many foreign market development programs and they are about one thing - building relationships. We feel committed to our partnership with the U.S Grains Council and the U.S. grains industry." The morning culminated with a panel discussion between three grain transportation experts regarding issues facing the global grain trade and its shipping channels. The panel included Kelle Horn, vice president, Pacific Rim Shipbrokers, Inc. and Stephen Nothdurft, assistant vice president and Midwest regional manager, Hyundai Merchant Marine. Ken Ericksen, senior vice president, head of client advisory development at Informa Economics acted as moderator. U.S. Grains Council President and CEO Tom Sleight closed the meeting, thanking attendees for their time and effort to attend and emphasizing the ties between U.S. agriculture and international customers. "Meetings like Export Exchange make it very apparent why it is essential for us to keep the bonds between suppliers and partner countries," he said. "The connections made here will not only propel our industry this year, but for years to come." More information is available at www.exportexchange.org or on social media at #ExEx18. Please visit www.grains.org for more information about the Council. For more information about RFA, visit www.ethanolrfa.org. For more information about Growth Energy, visit www.growthenergy.org.