15 Years On the Front Lines: USGC Bids Farewell to Longtime Employee

IMG 9138In 15 years with the U.S. Grains Council, Hiroko Sakashita has chalked up many achievements and many "firsts," but what people cite most are personal qualities: her discipline, hard work and knowledge and the respect she has earned.

"Sakashita-san was well respected by the Council's main contacts in Japan," said Cary Sifferath, USGC regional director for the Middle East and Africa, who worked with her in Japan for over six years. "The relationships that USGC and Sakashita-san have been able to develop over the years have been key to keeping trade moving between the United States and Japan.

"This respect allowed us to deal with several major issues such as StarLink, Bt10, and aflatoxin in food corn. These could have become very disruptive, but we saw only minimal and passing effect on U.S. market share."

Tommy Hamamoto, USGC's director in Japan, told a similar story.

"I still remember her hard work [on StarLink] even though I was working for a different organization at the time. She and the Council played a significant role in solving that trade disruption as early as possible and with the least cost to the U.S. industry."

Sakashita, helped establish the Council's annual value-enhanced grains conference as a source of timely information on identity-preserved grains, according to Sifferath. "She took the lead in getting distiller's dried grains with solubles (DDGS) re-registered in Japan, which opened the door for Japan to become a major DDGS importer."

"Using her business relationships and experience with Japan's feed industry, she did a wonderful job introducing DDGS," Hamamoto said. "Her thorough knowledge and network within the industry and with government helped smooth the way for quick penetration into the Japanese market.

"Recent double-digit growth in DDGS imports would not be achieved without her continuous efforts."

More recently, after the 2011 East Japan earthquake, Sakashita provided daily reports to USGC and the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo – reports that embassy officials praised for their accuracy and incorporated into their own reports to Washington, according to Hamamoto.

Council At-Large Director Darrel McAlexander offered similar praise, "Working with Hiroko, I always knew all the loose ends would be covered. She has been very influential and has done a great job for the Council. She leaves big shoes for the next person to fill."

Sifferath concluded: "I enjoyed working with her because of her dedication and hard work. I always knew we would have high-quality results from our programs because she was involved.

Sakashita's last day with the Council will be December 10. The Council wishes her and her family all the best in her retirement.

Click here to view photos of Sakashita's time at the Council.

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