Customer service is defined as the process of ensuring customer satisfaction with a product or service. When it comes to international trade relationships, customer service is expanded to include managing relationships and being able to ensure a reliable, quality supply.
Twice every year, U.S. Associates (USW) sends U.S. wheat farmer leaders overseas to help cultivate relationships with the people who import, mill and use the wheat they grow. USW refers to these delegations as “Board Teams” because they typically include members of USW’s board of directors who are selected by state wheat commission members. These missions help strengthen customer relationships but also give the participants the chance to see how the organization and local USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) staff work together to represent U.S. farmers.
Bound this month for Spain, Portugal and Morocco, the next Board Team includes: Alan Klempel of Bloomfield, Mont., representing the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee; Kent Lorens of Stratton, Neb., representing the Nebraska Wheat Board; Casey Madsen of Pine Bluffs, Wyo., representing the Wyoming Wheat Marketing Commission; and team leader Elizabeth Westendorf, USW Assistant Director of Policy.
The team will also be joined by Ian Flagg, USW Regional Vice President for the European, Middle Eastern and North African Regions, as well as Rutger Koekoek, USW Regional Marketing Director. The visits to Spain and Portugal, which are part of the European Union, will provide an introduction to two sophisticated markets, where the United States is seeing increased competition from nearby exporting countries. In Morocco, where wheat imports are subject to tariff rate quotas (TRQs) under two separate trade agreements with the EU and the United States, the team will see how a government buying system works. Throughout the trip the team will have the opportunity to meet with several customers and government officials and tour many facilities.
The team members will report back to USW directors later this year and, as regional leaders, to their wheat farmer neighbors.
Photos and comments from the team’s activities will be posted on USW’s Facebook page at www.facebook/uswheat.