It's a bit like hauling coal to Newcastle, as the British would say, when one thinks of importing corn into the United States through a port on the Gulf of Mexico.
But the Port of Manatee on Tampa Bay said this week the 620-foot-long ship King Fraser
docked at Port Manatee is discharging more than 52,000 tons of Brazilian-produced corn at its docks.
That's unusual for a country that according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Grain Transportation Report
exported 37.9 million metric tons of corn in the 12-month period that ended this Aug. 31 and 44.6 million metric tons in the same period a year earlier.
Port Manatee said the corn is being imported to offset drought-stricken U.S. production shortfalls and will be used for animal feed.
“We are looking forward to a busy working relationship with Port Manatee as we plan to bring in approximately 10,000 truck-load equivalents of corn through the port,” commented Cliff Arfman, vice president southeast at Interstate Commodities, Inc.
The shipment through Port Manatee is Interstate Commodities’ first of at least four to meet U.S. demand.
“We plan to provide the Florida feed industry a consistent source of grains free of drought-related toxins and we also have the capability to load rail shipments from Port Manatee throughout the U.S. via CSX Transportation,” said Arfman.
In its Nov. 9 World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate report, the USDA upped its estimate of U.S. imports of corn to 100 million bushels for the current marketing year that began Sept. 1, up from its estimate of 75 million bushels just one month ago.
USDA said the increase reflects "expectations for more shipments, particularly into the southeastern feed market which ordinarily relies heavily on supplies from the eastern Corn Belt."
The department said the drought this year is the most severe and extensive in 25 years. USDA's Economic Research Service
said 21-22 percent of the value of corn and soybean production is in areas with severe drought, while 49-53 percent of the value of production is in areas currently experiencing extreme drought or worse.
More drought information is available at the federal goverment's U.S. Drought Monitor Website
Stevedoring company Logistec USA, Inc. is handling the cargo discharge and terminal management at Port Manatee and A.R. Savage & Son is the shipping agent. - Chris Dupin