Dennis Vennekotter talks to visitors from Central America during their visit last Friday to three agriculture-based sites in the county. (Putnam Sentinel/Nancy Kline)
Dennis Vennekotter talks to visitors from Central America during their visit last Friday to three agriculture-based sites in the county. (Putnam Sentinel/Nancy Kline)
CONTINENTAL — An international buying team was in Putnam County Friday to see grain operations first hand. The delegation was a team from Central America including the Panama Canal, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Guatemala. The group visited three locations in Putnam County including Glandorf Feed in Glandorf, livestock operation in Cloverdale and the Vennekotter Farm near Continental.

“This is all about relationship building,” said Brad Moffitt, Ohio Corn & Wheat director of marketing development. He said these buyers like to see the grain they will potentially be buying. “They are interested in how the corn, the DDGs (dried distillers’ grains) and ethanol are made.”

Moffit said they are also interested in seeing how Americans prepare feed for livestock, a process they were able to see at Glandorf Feed.

The team is part of Export Exchange 2016 which is in Detroit this week. The meeting is planned to give the Central American participants a better understanding of the U.S. grain export value chain and to learn how U.S. grain is produced, graded and marketed.

“We believe that by seeing the U.S. corn value chain firsthand, the confidence of our Central American customers in the U.S. grain export system will be reinforced,” said Keith Truckor, chairman of the Ohio Corn Checkoff. He said team participants would have a better understanding of the advantages of buying U.S. grains and co-products.

Dennis Vennekotter, who is with the National Corn Growers Association and a board member of the Ohio Corn and Wheat Checkoff, served as the spokesperson who answered questions and explained about agriculture at the Vennekotter Farms.

“We have an abundance of corn right now, which is good for buyers,” Vennekotter said. He said it is important for farmers to understand there is a whole world out there that wants to feed their people or livestock.

Vennekotter said the team asked many questions about the technology used in the U.S., how we have increased our production per acre over the years, and how grain is taken to elevators then shipped to different locations. They were also interested in the production of ethanol.

Xenia Michel, who is an International Trade Specialist with the Panama Canal, said she had questions about the modern technology used in agriculture in the U.S.

“I’m a city girl, so all I’ve seen before is pictures in magazines,” she admitted. Although this is not her first visit to the U.S., Michel said it is her first visit to see the rural area of the country. “I was interested in how the modern technology works, about contracts and how weather affects agriculture,” she said.

Daniel Cespedes, works for Melo in Panama, a division that produces eggs. He said his company is a John Deere representative in Panama.He was interested in coming to the U.S. to see how the corn is doing.

“The corn yield if very good,” he said. He said this makes him happy because it can mean a lower price for his country when they purchase corn.

Tadd Nicholson, Executive Director with Ohio Corn and Wheat, said the team also wanted to see the sustainability and quality of the corn and grain produced in this country. He said this allows the grain buyers to see advantage of buying U.S. grains and co-products.

“We are competing with many other countries including Brazil, Argentina and the Ukraine,” Nicholson said.”It’s essential to strengthen the bonds between suppliers and partner countries.”