With the productivity of U.S. agriculture growing faster than domestic demand, U.S. farmers and agricultural firms rely heavily on export markets to sustain prices and revenues. And while most of the corn produced in Kentucky stays in the state to be processed for feed, bourbon, food, or ethanol, exports are still a critical factor in the economic success of Kentucky’s corn farmers.
“At the end of the day, a bushel of corn that leaves the U.S. for a foreign marketplace is a bushel of corn that adds value to the corn we grow and process right here in Kentucky,” said Philip McCoun, Kentucky Corn Promotion Council and US Grains Council Board member. “About 1 in 3 bushels of U.S. corn is exported in some form. Without exports, that corn would stay here in the U.S., creating a huge surplus and depressing prices all across the country, including here in Kentucky.”
Through their corn checkoff, Kentucky corn farmers support the international activities of the US Grains Council (USGC), an organization that develops export markets for U.S. barley, corn, grain sorghum and related products, including ethanol and distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS).
The U.S. exported 114.1 million metric tons of feed grains in all forms 16/17, a 12% increase from the prior year and a new record for the category.
U.S. corn exports realized substantial gains with the most exports since 2007/2008, as 58.1 million tons (2.29 billion bushels) of U.S. corn were exported in the marketing year. The 21 percent increase year-over-year was driven by purchases by long-term trading partners including Mexico, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan as well as increased exports to markets like Saudi Arabia, Colombia and Peru.
Record-setting U.S. ethanol exports surged even higher with 1.37 billion gallons (488 million bushels in corn equivalent) exported, a 34 percent increase year-over-year driven by increased exports to Brazil and India.
The corn equivalent of beef, pork and poultry meat exports also hit a double-digit jump compared to the previous marketing year with an export total of 22.9 million tons (901.5 million bushels) of corn equivalent exported in the form of meat.
Focus for the New Year
The Council says their theme for this year is “Friends and Frontiers,” which reflects both the opportunities and difficulties in the current trade environment for U.S. and Kentucky farmers.
“While we seek to maintain important trading relationships we have built over the last decade or more, we are also looking to the future and new opportunities for growth in demand,” said Deb Keller, USGC Chairman. “Our work today requires new types and new levels of engagement around the globe.”
The U.S. Grains Council also said their successes for U.S. farmers stem directly from their global network of professionals through 10 international offices, more than 30 additional in-country representatives, and active programs in more than 50 markets.