At First National Bank, our roots are in ag, and we believe in staying true to our roots. That means that we’ve seen South Dakota farmers through good times and bad for nearly 135 years.
Currently, our farmers are facing a tough ag economy. They’ve been hit hard with bad weather, low prices, and decreased trade with countries like China. The ag sector has been dealt blow after blow, but recently, we were proud to help bring some new hope to our farmers.
“We’re committed to ag and building relationships. That’s something we’ll continue to do, because that’s what South Dakota is built on.”
– Ag Banking Manager, Brian Gilbert
With the opportunity to build relationships and open a new market for South Dakota’s agricultural products, our Ag Banking team was excited to host a meeting with an Egyptian trade delegation at our Louise branch on Monday, November 4.
“We were really happy to host this delegation because it is the first step in opening some new markets for our producers,” FNB Ag Banking Manager Brian Gilbert said. “Egypt really could be the catalyst for opening up the Middle East for us.”
After years of unfair trade with China and a resulting trade war, the Chinese have significantly decreased imports of U.S. agricultural products like soybeans. This has cut farmers out of one of the major markets for their crops, creating a need for new opportunities and new markets. His Excellency Ambassador Hamdi Saleh led a group of five Egyptian business and trade professionals to South Dakota looking to advance trade relationships with ag producers.
“We came here because you are looking for new markets, and that you don’t want to be a one-market country looking for China only,” the Ambassador said. “We are talking about Egypt as being a catalyst and also the largest market in the Middle East.”
Currently, Egypt imports soybeans primarily from Brazil and Argentina. However, the Ambassador explained that Egyptian buyers have a desire for American products, but the group had never seen production of corn and soybeans in the United States.
The group also saw some of South Dakota’s cutting-edge agricultural biotechnology, like ethanol production at POET and soybean-based aquafeed manufacturing at Prairie AquaTech in Volga.
“We’ve never had that context before,” the Ambassador said. “That’s what we are here for: we would like to have information about the quality. We need to have a competitive price and also an environment to continue the relationship, not a one-shot deal.”
During the meeting, our Ag Banking team shared information on the production scale of South Dakota’s agriculture industry. Our farmers help feed the entire world, with 9 billion people to feed by 2050. That’s why our Ag Bankers have been committed to building successful relationships with farmers, and now, building successful international trade relationships.
“We deal with people who do not stick to this type of morals in business,” the Ambassador said. “They just want to make one deal and forget your name after that. If we can develop a relationship that is built on mutual understanding and mutual benefit, that is better than dealing with a company who will not remember our name.”
“We’re looking forward to advancing the connections between our farmers here in South Dakota and buyers in Egypt,” Gilbert said. “We’re committed to ag and building relationships. That’s something we’ll continue to do, because that’s what South Dakota is built on.”