U.S. could unseat Brazil for top corn exporting nation

Brazil is expected to surpass the US in corn exports for the this marketing year, but some members in the ag industry say that could be short lived.

Krista Swanson, lead economist with the National Corn Growers Association, says there could be an increase in planted acres in the US that offset lower yields and a smaller crop for Brazil in 2023-24. “The important takeaway with is that it demonstrates the possibility for a leveling in Brazil’s corn production growth and the ability either nation to lead on exports going forward.”  

She says widespread drought in the US has helped Brazil become the top global exporter for the first time since 2012. “We have a shortfall in US yields and production paired with record production in Brazil, which is giving Brazil some relative advantages in terms of corn available for export this marking yield.”

Swanson says profitability is a concern for Brazilian farmers with export prices about 75 cents per bushel lower than the US. “A lower corn price is attractive to foreign buyers who are comparing prices between the US and Brazil.  But, this also means lower prices for the farmer.

Swanson says Brazil also has logistical issues getting the crop to market and there isn’t a ton of yield potential growth for second crop corn.

Vice President with the US Grains Council Cary Sifferath tells Brownfield domestic ethanol production will also limit exports. “We’ve seen expansion of corn-based ethanol production in Brazil, which has been traditionally sugarcane produced ethanol.  Now, we’re seeing corn-based plants that are corn-specific and other plants that can switch back to corn and sugarcane.”

NCGA released a white paper Wednesday analyzing and comparing corn production in Brazil and the US. The findings also indicate that US farmers are significantly more productive by using less fertilizer and raising a higher-yielding crop.

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