COLLEGE STATION — Talking about the importance of shipping U.S. agricultural products to overseas markets is easy.
Trying to actually export a product is like attempting to recite the name and capital of every country in the world, in the native language of each, in alphabetical order. Most would give up after a couple of unsuccessful tries.
Now there may be a way around all the garble. Global Entrepreneurship Management Support, or GEMS, is a collection of new materials designed by the Texas Agricultural Extension Service and three other universities to show potential exporters how to dot all the i’s and cross the t’s.
“A rancher usually has only one herd of cattle to sell, for example,” said Dr. C. Parr Rosson, an extension agricultural economist. “In Mexico, they want small steers. But in Japan, they want larger steers. People would rather give up than deal with those kinds of differences.
“This project is designed to teach people the business of moving beyond the boundaries,” Rosson said.
Cattle raising, like most other types of agricultural production, is not an assembly-line factory that can be modified quickly to meet consumer needs. That’s why producers often say, “forget it” to exporting rather than try to sort out all the rules and regulations.
But Rosson said the reality of modern agriculture lies in exporting for increased profits. If producers become more aware of the process and who to go to for help, exporting will be easier.
Working with Rosson and other Texas Agricultural Extension Service economists are specialists from Oklahoma State University, the University of Kentucky and Utah State University.
Three materials — a resource book, an instructor’s guide and a video tape — already are available. A regional database, with contact information about manufacturers, shippers, freight forwarders, and other vital organizations, is expected to be completed this year.
Rosson said the materials can be used by any audience, but they may be particularly helpful for county agents who now are getting calls from producers needing assistance.
“This is a new, non-traditional role because of the subject matter on economics and international affairs,” he said. “Until now, there have been no resources in Extension for international marketing. Even most agricultural economists are not trained in international marketing.”
He said each state will determine how to implement the materials. The Texas Agricultural Extension Service’s international marketing team initially will target 25-35 counties that have a “high degree of need to be aware of what the exporting process is.”
“We hope to develop a more proactive program in those counties,” Rosson said. The counties, mostly along the border with Mexico, are heavily involved in cattle, fruits and vegetables, and grain. “Our closeness to Mexico creates a need that isn’t as vital in some of the other states.”