U.S. corn exports turned in a near-record performance during the 2007-08 marketing year for corn. The marketing year for 2007-2008 just ended on August 31, as the marketing year for corn and soybeans runs from August 31 of one year to September 1 of the next year. That's the official marketing year as used by USDA and the grain trade.
"Ethanol demand isn't the only contributor to strong farm gate prices," says Darrel McAlexander, chair of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board. "The unofficial numbers from USDA's Foreign Agriculture Service show 2007-08 as one of the top three or four years in corn export history."
Exports remain important as a corn price maker
McAlexander, who farms at Sidney in Iowa's southwest corner, was in Mexico last week working to promote Iowa corn exports. He emphasized that export sales are essential to grower profitability. "We continue to produce more corn in the United States, and we have to make sure demand keeps pace for corn growers to operate in the black. That means promoting corn use in livestock, in processing and for exports."
In the 2007-2008 marketing year, U.S. corn shipments increased over the previous year in 12 of the top 20 U.S. export markets. Japan is the top buyer of U.S. corn. Sales of U.S. corn jumped especially in South Korea, which posted a 112% increase, but fell back in Mexico, Taiwan and Egypt, the other top five markets. In all, 59 foreign countries purchased U.S. corn during the past marketing year.
The ICPB funds U.S. Grains Council export market development programs, which maintains offices or representatives in 19 major markets and reaches thousands of grain buyers and users annually. USGC programs promote exports of commodity corn, value-added corn varieties and processed corn products like distillers grain from Iowa's ethanol industry.
The ICPB also works to increase support of Iowa-specific exports, and it funds the U.S. Meat Export Federation to increase sales of corn-fed beef, pork and lamb.