For most of the 20th century North America (primarily the U.S.) served as the world's grain reservoir. For not only did North America possess a vast agricultural heartland capable of producing quantities of grain far in excess of domestic demand, North America also possessed an economic system that encouraged innovation and investment and thereby created an environment whereby grain could not only be produced but also moved quickly and efficiently from areas of surplus to areas of deficit. Thus North America developed a sophisticated grain export system that met much of the world's day to day commercial grain needs and when food shortages occurred in the Soviet Union, or China, or India or Africa, the North American grain export industry played the dominant role in meeting global food security challenges.
NAEGA evolved to service the commercial needs of the U.S. grain export industry in an environment when U.S. supply of staple grains met much of the world's day to day commercial needs while serving as the world's grain reservoir. This traditional supply driven, often residual supplier, role is fast changing.
Market access is a necessary condition but not a sufficient one for generating U.S. grain and oilseed exports to a particular country. There may also be a general lack of import demand, or an importing country may have a very open market but its buyers choose to purchase supplies from a competing exporter due to lower transportation costs or other factors. Therefore NAEGA focuses efforts on a range of objectives that include expanding or maintaining demand in target markets (a bigger pie), expanding U.S. market share (a bigger slice of that pie), and achieving greater market access (a seat at the table).