US buyers turn to Brazil for cheap corn

Farmer Andy Stoll looks over drought damaged field corn

The US is turning to Brazil for help with corn supplies as low stocks and the worst drought in half a century haunt the world’s leading grain exporter.

Meat companies including top pork producer Smithfield Foods have arranged to ship Brazilian corn to the US east coast as it has become cheaper than rations from the US corn belt, according to people familiar with the transactions.

The situation – analogous to Saudi Arabia importing oil – underscores how anxious buyers of corn, particularly the livestock, poultry and ethanol industries, have become, as 88 per cent of the domestic crop struggles in drought-hit regions.

“This is not something that happens – a boatload of corn coming in for use in US feeding operations. This is an unusual thing,” said Erick Erickson, director of global strategies at the US Grains Council, a Washington-based export promotion group.

Records from Piers, a ports database, show 2008 was the last year foreign bulk corn arrived on the US mainland and then it was in the form of seeds, not animal feed.


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