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Vinduska ascends to chairman of grains council

Staff writer

Terry Vinduska has farmed his family land west of Pilsen since 1973, but he also fulfilled a promise to his parents that he would graduate from college and use that college education.

Now Vinduska is the chairman of the U.S. Grains Council.

“I use the education I was blessed with to help U.S. farmers around the world,” he said. “I have the best of both worlds.”

He was elected to the Kansas Corn Commission 17 years ago. The commission needed a representative to the U.S. Grains Council, and Vinduska volunteered. After seeing the council at work, he decided that he wanted to do more.

“I wanted to be a part of the leadership and guiding the council,” Vinduska said. “Building that market, the end result is improving the lives of U.S. producers,m and the lives of consumers overseas are improving because they have a better quality of life. That’s really what appealed to me.”

The U.S. Grains Council develops export markets for U.S. barley, corn, grain, sorghum, and related products. Vinduska has been with the council for 16 years and has ascended the ranks. He was a secretary, then treasurer, then vice chairman, until finally becoming chairman July 18.

As chairman, Vinduska speaks for stakeholders and people who contribute to the council, which is a nonprofit organization. He also works with diplomats. At the Board of Delegates meeting in Boston, where Vinduska was elected, Carolina Barco, ambassador of Colombia, made a plea to council members. She urged the group do what they could to speed up the ratification of a pending U.S. – Columbia free trade agreement.

Vinduska already is a frequent international traveler. He took a trip to Colombia and the Dominican Republic earlier this year. His goal with the U.S. Grains Council on international matters is to try to keep up work already begun.

Establishing a market for U.S. grain and corn in other countries is a long process. The coun-

cil has been working in China for almost 30 years but has only started exporting corn within the last couple of years.

While Vinduska has been part of the U.S. Grains Council, the council helped educate a ranching family in Morocco.

The family’s grandfather started out with 10 cattle and tied them together to feed them. The council introduced him to a feed lot system, and the father eventually grew the herd to 50. Three generations down the family now has a herd of 10,000 cattle.

China and India are the council’s two biggest targets.

“The potential is where the people are,” Vinduska said.

The process starts by addressing a need for growth. Similar to the family in Morocco, Chinese farmers started with two or three acres of land and maybe one or two cows.

“As the cost of living increases, they can’t make enough money on their tiny farms,” Vinduska said. “It’s like what happened a generation and a half ago in the U.S.”

Unlike the United States, China lacks the soil quality to grow enough grain or corn for their population. The council encourages foreign ranchers to increase the size of their operations until they are dependent on U.S. imports.

“You begin by showing them what they can be doing and then educate them on how to do it,” Vinduska said.

The barrier between the communist government in China and a democratic government in the U.S. was what slowed the process to a crawl.

Vinduska said that the barrier in India is more cultural. The livestock transition that worked so well in the Mediterranean and China may not work there because many Indians are vegetarians. Also, it’s the Indian government’s instinctual reaction to try to protect Indian farmers. It’s the council’s task to convince them that Indian farmers can continue to prosper while importing U.S. grain.

“You always have to work within the culture of the country that you’re in,” Vinduska said.

Vinduska also will work with the shipping industry.

“The challenge is getting it to the places that need it,” Vinduska said of shipping grain.

It’s not always complicated. In one example, the council discovered that many crates, after carrying goods to the U.S. go back to China empty. The council decided to fill the crates with high protein grain for the return trip.

The council’s works around the globe can be beneficial to grain farmer’s in the U.S.

Vinduska’s position might be a big benefit to Kansas and Marion County.

“Marion County in Kansas is being represented on a national level,” Vinduska said. “It’s an opportunity for Kansas to be a majority player because we truly are.”

Last modified July 28, 2010

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