Corn growers focus on export markets, telling the story of Nebraska agriculture

Lindsey Erb

Speakers emphasized the importance of international trade in agricultural commodities during the spring meeting of Central Plains Corn Growers last Wednesday, March 21, at the Albion Country Club.
They also urged area farmers to help tell the story of Nebraska agriculture and the healthy products it produces.
With large amounts of grain in storage, and a large percentage of farm income dependent on ag exports, the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) is trying to retain every possible export customer, said Lindsey Erb, director of investor relations with the USGC.
A primary target market for the future is Asia, where 86 percent of the new economic middle class is expected to evolve. World population will grow by nine billion people between now and 2050, and 96 percent of those people will be outside of the U.S.,
For U.S. corn producers, global trade includes sales of corn, ethanol and dried distillers grains, with ethanol becoming a major growth area.
About half of the nation’s corn and co-products are exported to countries currently participating with the U.S. in free trade agreements, said Erb. Key trading partners are Mexico, Canada and South Korea.
In 2016-17, U.S. ethanol exports set a new record at 1.37 billion gallons.
USGC is focusing on China for increased ethanol sales in the future. China is making efforts to improve air quality in its cities by using ethanol, and Erb said the U.S. has the capacity to supply a large part of their needs.
“The goal of the Grains Council is to export four billion gallons of ethanol by 2022,” said Erb.
This past year, a new U.S. record was set with export of 4.4 billion bushels of feed grains in all forms. The five-year goal, said Erb, is to increase that total to 4.9 billion bushels per year, which would equal 32.8 percent of total U.S. production.
Erb talked at length about the two long-term initiatives in the U.S. farm bill — the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program.
These two export programs directly generated $2.1 billion per year for U.S. farmers from 2002 through 2014. Erb also noted that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is very important to American agriculture.

Read the complete story in the March 28 Albion News & Petersburg Press, Print and E-Editions.