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10 facts about U.S. ag exports you should know

Cary Sifferath
TRADE AGREEMENTS WORK: Cary Sifferath explains the value of trade agreements. He represents the U.S. Grains Council.
Since a farmer’s job is not to create export markets directly, it may be easy to overlook the importance of exports to agriculture.

You’ve probably never heard of Cary Sifferath, Hanna Abou-El-Seoud or Greg Tyler. Yet what they do helps keep ag products moving around the world. All three represent organizations that play an important role in expanding exports.

Sifferath is senior director of global programs for the U.S. Grains Council. (Learn more at Abou-El-Seoud works in government affairs for Gordley Associates, helping the American Soybean Association make key contacts. Tyler is senior vice president for the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council. His organization works in 75 countries. When they’re promoting poultry, they’re promoting corn and soybeans too, he notes.

Recently, these three experts shared statistics with farmers interested in learning more about ag exports. Here are 10 facts about U.S. ag exports:

1. Trade agreements have been negotiated with 20 countries since the end of World War II. According to the U.S. Grains Council, these trade agreements accounted for 50% of exported U.S. feed grains in all forms during USDA’s 2015-16 marketing year.

2. Most of the world’s population lives outside the U.S. In fact, 95.7% of the world population lives outside the U.S. That represents a large market for U.S. ag products.

3. The majority of future population growth will be outside the U.S. You’ve heard the “9 billion people by 2050” prediction. What you don’t hear is that 97% of anticipated growth will be outside the U.S.

EXPAND SOYBEAN MARKETS: Hanna Abou-El-Seoud’s job is to help keep soybean exports flowing around the world.

4. U.S. corn exports to Canada and Mexico have increased. The U.S. Grains Council reports a sevenfold increase in U.S. corn exports to these two countries since 1994. The council has had an office in Mexico supporting trade development for more than 35 years.

5. The crop from 1 in every 10 acres of harvested U.S. farmland goes to Canada or Mexico. That’s based on U.S. Grains Council statistics.

6. U.S. ag exports to Canada and Mexico have increased over the past 20 years. Ag exports in total to Canada have tripled, and ag exports from the U.S. to Mexico have quintupled in 20 years.

7. Mexico ranks first or second as a buyer of four U.S. commodities. Mexico ranks first in corn, buying 524 million bushels annually, according to the U.S. Grains Council. It’s No. 2 in dried distillers grains, No. 2 in sorghum and No. 1 in barley.

POULTRY LINKED TO CORN, BEANS: Greg Tyler explains that while his job is helping to develop more exports for poultry and eggs worldwide, in doing so, he creates demand for corn and soybeans.

8. Agriculture has a 50-year record of trade surpluses. According to the Indiana Soybean Alliance and Indiana Corn Growers Association, these surpluses have increased where there are free-trade agreements. The surplus in 2016 was $20 billion.

9. Ag exports stimulate the economy beyond the farm gate. According to ISA and ICGA, 17.3 million jobs in the U.S. in 2014 were related to agriculture, accounting for more than 9% of total U.S. employment.

10. Every million dollars in exports creates 7.5 jobs in Indiana. That’s according to the U.S. Grains Council. In addition, 8.1% of ethanol produced in Indiana is exported. About 45% of all DDG from ethanol production is exported.

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