USGC focuses on rebuilding corn export demand

The export picture for U.S. farmers looks rosy on the surface, but recent sales have stumbled due to competition from foreign suppliers.

Published on: Mar 2, 2013

     USDA recently projected U.S. ag exports will set a new record for value at $145 billion, due in large part to Chinese demand for soybeans and cotton.

     But U.S. corn exports, on the other hand, continue to stumble as a tight supply and subsequent high prices have prompted many buyers to source corn from other countries.

     “All our lives we’ve dealt with surpluses (and lower prices),” Don Fast, chairman of the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and a farmer from Montana, told FarmWeek last week at the Commodity Classic in Kissimmee, Fla. “So this (current situation) is kind of an anomaly. It inhibits exports.”

FarmWeekNow’s Daniel Grant, left, interviews Don Fast, right, chairman of the U.S. Grains Council, at Commodity Classic in Kissimmee, Fla. (Photo by Marri Carrow, USGC)
FarmWeekNow’s Daniel Grant, left, interviews Don Fast, right, chairman of the U.S. Grains Council, at Commodity Classic in Kissimmee, Fla. (Photo by Marri Carrow, USGC)

     USDA’s most recent estimate of U.S. corn exports for 2012/13, 900 million bushels, if realized would be the smallest since 1971/72.

     “Our biggest issue with high prices is we lose market share,” Fast said.

     And regaining lost market share isn’t as easy as flipping a switch once U.S. farmers rebuild supplies.

     USDA recently projected U.S. farmers this year will produce a record-high 14.5 billion bushels of corn.

     “Once you lose market share, it’s very tough (to regain),” Fast said. “There are competitors in the Ukraine, Argentina, Brazil, and even India who are ramping up production.”

     USGC therefore is focusing on customer service and promoting crop quality to foreign buyers.

     The strategy is to promote corn, even at higher prices, and to assure customers more corn likely will be available from the U.S. in the near future.

     “We (U.S. farmers) can react real quick with these markets and these prices,” Fast said. “We’ll be seeding a lot of corn (this spring).