Jay O'Neil, senior agricultural economist at IGP, said the first question many people have is about the purpose and mission of the program. Due to its location in Manhattan and affiliation with Kansas State University, IGP is often assumed as a program for undergraduate education. However, this is not the case. Though there is an interest in working with and teaching young people about the global grains industry, IGP's primary focus and efforts are centered on the promotion of Kansas commodities with foreign buyers.
"Our entire purpose and focus is to promote and educate foreign buyers on the use of Kansas and U.S. corn, wheat, soybeans and related products," O'Neil said. "We provide innovative and relevant technical programs to encourage market preference, consumption and utilization of corn for the benefit of Kansas corn producers."
Promoting U.S. grains
Although IGP may not be a household name, the program enjoys global recognition among flour millers, feed manufacturers, grain buyers and governmental buying entities. This year IGP will conduct more than 25 short courses and customized training sessions to help familiarize international customers with U.S. corn and to promote its quality characteristics and best uses. O'Neil said IGP activities also include education on risk management and price control. In addition, IGP also works with trade teams and visitors and facilitates overseas technical assistance.
"Training is a part of the promotional element of marketing U.S. grains," he said. "A foreign buyer may not understand the U.S. grading and quality system or how best to utilize corn or feed ingredients. Having that familiarity and knowledge gives them power and motivation to buy our products to use in the best way. It's a classic case of the more you know the more you like it and we want to show how to use U.S. grains in the best way possible."