News & Events
When U.S. farmers replaced their horse-drawn equipment with tractors in the early 1900s, their crop productivity took a mighty leap forward. Technology on the farm has continually evolved to increase efficiency, improve yields and drive production and profitability. In the 21st century, this is due in part to the development of precision agriculture tools.
A major strength of the U.S. grain production and marketing system is the variety of consistent, impartially tested grades, classes and prices that it can offer customers around the world. In the U.S. marketing system, quality requirements for grain exports are governed by both contract and specifications and complex, constantly evolving, government-regulated guidelines that cover the inspection, sampling, grading and weighing of grain. These grains standards and inspection procedures are designed to ensure a uniform product and to facilitate the trading and marketing of U.S. grain.
Off-farm grain storage at elevators offers much more capacity than on-farm bins, and U.S farmers with large production volume often sell their grain at harvest to these facilities. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the United States’ off-farm commercial storage capacity is 272 million metric tons (10.7 billion bushels).
For U.S. farmers, corn quality starts on the farm - even before seed is planted in the spring. Farmers choose varieties that are complementary to the local soils, climates and planting locations based on characteristics such as rate of maturity, fast dry-down and yield potential. From harvest to storage, stringent management techniques are put into place to ensure the grain remains at its highest quality grade before it is used on farm or marketed elsewhere.
Every bushel of U.S. corn, sorghum and barley moving to overseas markets passes thorugh a U.S. export port, a system known worldwide for its efficiency and certification procedures.
The vast majority of this grain bound for international markets is sold in large volume bulk cargo loads. Smaller orders sometimes go out through containers, often through West Coast ports.
To ensure a quality crop at harvest, U.S. farmers work to select seed varieties that are best suited to the climate and growing conditions in their region. Throughout the growing and harvest seasons, farmers collect data to guide decisions such as fertilizer application. Prior to on-farm storage, grain goes through a cleaning and drying process to reduce the moisture content.
The path to global food security depends on technology and trade. Speaking last week to the China Food Security and Food Safety Strategy Summit in Beijing, U.S. Grains Council Chairman Ron Gray emphasized the commitment of U.S. farmers to continuous improvement and sustainable increases in yield. He also expressed the readiness of U.S. producers to serve as reliable partners in meeting China’s critical food security goals in the years ahead.
In August, Russian officials announced the country would ban or limit many agricultural imports from the United States, the European Union, Norway, Canada and Australia. This was done in retaliation for sanctions imposed by these countries on the Russian banking, energy and defense industries in response to Russia’s intervention in Ukraine. Conversely, Russia has no plans to cease grain exports out of the country, which are imported by several countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. The bans have already led to larger than expected inflation and higher food prices in the country.