In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, Council staff used every technical means available to keep world markets for U.S. corn, soghum, barley, distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and ethanol open, moving many of our meetings, events and conferences online to promote Council trade-building relationships and in the end, we were successful in championing trade with our world partners.
The final numbers for the 2019/2020 marketing year show overall exports of U.S. grain in all forms (GIAF) ranks as the sixth best export year of all time, despite declining roughly 5 percent year-over-year. Overall, U.S. GIAF exports for 2019/2020 totaled roughly 101.2 million metric tons, equivalent to 4.1 billion bushels.
China emerged as an unexpected bright spot for trade in 2020. While the relationship remained complicated, the country purchased impressive amounts of U.S. corn and sorghum this year.
Also, many other high points emerged, including U.S. corn satisfying growing demand in countries around the world; a pest risk assessment approval for U.S. sorghum in Vietnam; U.S. barley fulfilling brewing needs in Mexico; DDGS market breakthroughs in Canada and Mexico; and pivots from fuel to industrial ethanol worldwide amid the pandemic. The Council also received good news this year on free trade agreements: the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement officially entered into force in July, and a phase one deal with Japan kicked off the year on Jan. 1, 2020.
Our work at the Council remains ongoing and unending and, as we head into 2021, we’ve learned that the virtual aspect of our calling – while not the same as in-person relationship building – does add a dimension we will continue to employ even after we are past the pandemic. We will continue our work to identify short-term prospects while expanding long-term demand as we Build Relationships to Build Trade for U.S. commodities around the world.