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Vinduska visits Mexico on Kansas ag trade mission

Staff writer

In the midst of uncertainty about America’s foreign trade agreements, Terry Vinduska of Marion recently had a hand in building bridges with Mexico, the largest export market for U.S. wheat and corn.

Vinduska was among nine Kansans who traveled to Mexico from March 26 to 30 on an agricultural trade mission sponsored by Kansas Department of Agriculture. Vinduska represented the Kansas Corn Commission.

They were seeking to reassure themselves and their customers that agricultural trade would continue.

Vinduska said Mexican feed producers are worried about U.S. grain exports being cut off. Grain comes in by rail, the cheapest form of transportation, much of it right through Kansas. If U.S. exports were cut off, Mexico would have to import corn from Argentina or somewhere else in South America, and it would cost more, Vinduska said.

The group visited several companies that produce animal feed using imported corn and dried distillers grain, a byproduct of ethanol production.

Vinduska said every company they visited expressed a desire to continue to trade with the U.S. and was “cautiously optimistic.”

“They value us as a supplier and also as a customer,” he said.

The Mexican government owns the country’s fuel industry but wants to privatize it. The move could open up new markets for U.S. ethanol, Vinduska said.

A petroleum company that owns gas stations and facilities to blend fuel was “very” interested in producing E-10 fuel, a blend of 90 percent petroleum and 10 percent ethanol, as a way to improve air quality in Mexico.

However, the owners were leery of government intentions, Vinduska said. Though the company has been granted permission to produce E-10, they are afraid the Mexican government will come back and tax the ethanol, making the product unprofitable.

Vinduska was impressed with two companies that had state of the art facilities that were on par with U.S. companies.

Grupolala is a private company that uses huge stores of grain and dried distillers grain to produce feed for a large dairy cooperative. The company also provides nutrition and marketing information. Rancho Lucero is a similar company that produces products for beef and dairy cattle.

The mission visited Bartlett Grain, a large importer of corn, Kansas wheat, and dried distillers grain. The grain is brought in by rail and sold to independent users. The facility is being upgraded to include production of steam-flaked corn for cattle feeders. Vinduska said it looks a lot like Corn Flakes cereal.

Vinduska also visited a family-owned company that produces grain for small livestock operations, of which there are many.

He has gone on numerous ag missions, and he said he learned once again that the world is full of good people, with just a handful of bad people.

“I came home feeling very optimistic that we can maintain trade with Mexico,” he said. “They aren’t angry at us. Both of us just want the two governments to get out of the way.”

Last modified April 13, 2017

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