(Albin, third from right, represented corn farmers during a 2017 trade trip in Taiwan)
Written by Jonathan Eisenthal
Doug Albin has traveled to Taiwan and found gratitude from the country’s feed industry representatives, who appreciate Albin making the long trip to talk about the corn, ethanol and distillers grains made in Minnesota. The effort was one of many Albin has made over the years through the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) to grow export markets for Minnesota’s corn farmers.
He has been part of USGC’s trade work in Asia, not only going on the mission to Taiwan, but receiving reports on the important markets such as China, Japan, South Korea and the Philippines. Albin has dedicated much of his time to spread the word among American farmers and agribusinesses about the growing markets for US farm goods in these countries.
USGC recognized Albin for five years of service during the organization’s 16th International Marketing Conference and 59th Annual Membership Meeting earlier this year.
“Gray hairs do command some respect,” laughs Albin, who has farmed for more than 40 years in Clarkfield and is also a longtime member of the Minnesota Corn Research & Promotion Council.
“You don’t do this for the awards, but because the work is so important. Really, it is very important for the buyers to be able to put a face to where these products come from and how they are produced,” said Albin. He has one more USGC meeting before retiring—this time in Cincinnati—at which he will introduce his successor and offer tips to help him hit the ground running.
Export sales are a key to American farm prosperity. Those exports have faltered during recent trade disputes, but the fundamentals are still there, and there are still lots of Chinese feed operations that want to buy corn from the US Farm Belt, according to Albin.
“We have not abandoned our activities in China,” said Albin. “US Grains Council is keeping its Chinese offices open. There is huge potential upside there—above what we were selling before the tariffs went up.”
He is hopeful that there will be a swift return to vigorous trade, once negotiations are concluded. The corn market in Taiwan and Korea is stable, Albin reports, without a lot of room for growth, but both nations could serve as important, growing markets for US ethanol.
“Taiwan is densely populated and they have air quality problems, and they are looking seriously at ethanol as a solution. When we first started ethanol here in Minnesota we were in non-attainment for air quality. But adding ethanol to gasoline has worked so well that we have no need for vehicle emissions testing stations, like they have in other states.”
He predicts that once one country in the region adopts ethanol, other countries will swiftly follow. The most important country where the US could benefit from an ethanol breakthrough may be South Korea, which imports high volumes of oil in order to refine it and sell the various fuel products around the Pacific Rim. While currently the fifth-largest market for U.S. ethanol, South Korea currently only imports it for industrial uses.
For more information on Albin’s recent honor with USGC, click here.