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South America Gains Ground as Corn Exporter

Brazil and Argentina are on the way to record corn harvests this year, underlining their rising stature as competitors of the U.S. in the export market. Neither country is in the same league as U.S. farmers in corn production. Combined, however, the two countries exported more corn than the U.S. in two of the past four trade years. They could make it a neck-and-neck race with the U.S. in the current trade year for prominence in the world market, although the U.S. is unchallenged as the largest single grower and exporter.

With more land in corn and yields rebounding from drought, the USDA forecasted in March that Brazil would harvest a record 91.5 million tonnes in 2016-2017. In Argentina, planted area is up by 31% from last year, driving the USDA forecast of a huge increase in output to a record 37.5 million tonnes. “Rains have maintained ample soil moisture reserves for the crop, and plant health is generally good,” says the World Agricultural Production report.

The record corn crop in Brazil is paired with a record soybean crop, matching the U.S. performance of record corn and soy crops in 2016-2017. Brazil has expanded soybean plantings for 11 years in a row and corn plantings in five of the last seven years.

This article was produced in collaboration with the Food & Environment Reporting Network, an independent, nonprofit news organization producing investigative reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.


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