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Brazil’s Uptick in Corn Exports Not Necessarily Indicative of Trend, Ag Economist Says

While Brazil is positioned to surpass the U.S. in corn exports this year, the data don’t indicate the trend leading to this development will necessarily continue, as the South American country faces many challenges when it comes to agriculture and trade, a national ag economist said today.

“U.S. exports have been hindered by droughts that have affected key areas of the Corn Belt,” NCGA Lead Economist Krista Swanson said. “But the U.S. has several relative advantages in the global corn market that can be harnessed to support our $90 billion corn industry.”

The U.S. is bolstered by far superior infrastructure and sustainable farming practices, Swanson noted. For example, she said Brazil is 86.6% of the size of the entire United States but has just 25% of the roadway miles found in this country, of which only 12.4% are paved. Nearly 70% of roadway miles are paved in the U.S.

The comments were made during a joint press conference hosted by the National Corn Growers Association and the U.S. Grains Council and come as reports show that Brazil is on pace to surpass the U.S. in corn exports this year. Swanson was joined at the press conference by U.S. Grains Council Vice President Cary Sifferath, who addressed potential new markets that could be cultivated for U.S. corn growers.

In addition to listing the strengths U.S. corn growers bring to the table, Swanson also highlighted some of Brazil’s limitations.

“While there is additional pasture area available for cropland expansion in the country, efforts are also underway to rein in deforestation of valuable rainforest that is critical to global sustainability,” Swanson said. “In the U.S., by contrast, farmers have used innovation to sustainably increase production of corn over time with a finite land area.”

NCGA has called on Congress to double funding in the farm bill for important trade programs, such as the Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development Program.

MAP is designed to encourage development, maintenance and expansion of commercial markets for U.S. agricultural exports. FMD is a joint government and agri-industry effort to develop markets by acquainting potential foreign customers with U.S. farm products.

The final data on trade exports from both countries for the 2022-2023 market year will be released in September.

Read the white paper on this issue here.

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