China falls to third place as U.S. ag export market, USDA says

U.S. food and ag exports to China will fall by $6 billion this fiscal year in the biggest slump in sales since the Sino-U.S. trade war, forecast the Agriculture Department on Wednesday. Mexico and Canada will surpass China as the top customers, while the agricultural trade deficit will widen to $32 billion.

Global cropland growth is mostly in tropics, challenging U.S. role

The world has added 398 million harvested acres of food grains, feed grains, and oilseeds since the start of the 21st century, mostly in tropical nations, said four analysts writing at the farmdoc daily blog. “Only with significant changes in its production technology” would U.S. agriculture, accustomed to being a world leader in row crops, benefit from this expansion, they said.

Brazil, an agricultural giant, could expand cropland by 35 percent, say analysts

Already a major soybean, corn, and cotton grower, Brazil could expand its crop area by 35 percent through the conversion of overgrazed and overgrown pastureland, according to a research agency that is part of the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture. Besides the potential addition of 70 million acres of cropland, Brazil could increase production by devoting more land to second-crop corn, said a team of U.S. university economists.

Brazil and Colombia sharply reduce forest loss

With new leaders in office, Brazil and Colombia dramatically reduced their loss of mature tropical forest in 2023, said Global Forest Watch in an annual report on Thursday. Nonetheless, the world’s tropics lost 3.7 million hectares (more than 14,000 square miles) of primary forest. Losses have run at 3 to 4 million hectares annually for the past two decades.

Mexico chases China for No. 1 export market

Mexico will buy a record $28.4 billion worth of U.S. food and agricultural exports this fiscal year, only $300 million less than China, the first-place customer, forecast the Agriculture Department on Wednesday. China is now buying more corn and soybeans from Brazil and less from the United States.

Lower corn production costs in U.S. than in Brazil

Although the cost of production rose in both countries in 2023, U.S. corn growers have an advantage over their Brazilian rivals with lower per-bushel costs, said four agricultural economists at the farmdoc daily blog. The United States grows three times as much corn as Brazil, but Brazil is forecast to be the world’s top corn exporter for the second year in a row.

Brazil a stronger U.S. competitor in soybean sales

In the past decade, Brazil has improved its network of roads, railways, and ports, “significantly altering” its competitiveness with the United States in the world soybean market, said an Agriculture Department report on Thursday. Continued improvements would bolster Brazil’s standing as the world’s largest soybean producer and exporter.

Tropical forest losses worsen, says WRI

Although global leaders agreed in 2021 to halve forest losses within a decade, 4.1 million hectares (15,830 square miles) of tropical primary forest were lost last year, said the World Resources Institute on Wednesday. “The trend is moving in the wrong direction,” said the environmental group.

Land values in Brazil soy belt doubled from 2019-22

Cropland prices in Brazil doubled from 2019-22, pulled up by high commodity prices and strong investor demand, and aided by low interest rates, said four University of Illinois agricultural economists.

Drought, biodiesel boom pinches world soyoil trade

The boom in production of renewable diesel fuel has pushed U.S. soybean oil prices so high the commodity is uncompetitive on the world market, said USDA analysts on Tuesday. Drought in Argentina, the world's leading soyoil exporter, also will be a major factor in the lowest volume of soyoil imports worldwide in five years.

U.S. dominance in ag export race is softening

The United States lost its place as the world's largest wheat exporter a decade ago, and now its leadership in exports of corn, cotton and tree nuts is being challenged, said a new USDA report. "Changes in global patterns of production and agricultural markets affected U.S. export competitiveness during the last two decades," said the Economic Research Service.

Global corn trade tightens as Argentine, U.S. exports dip

Drought in Argentina and lackluster sales in the United States, two of the world’s major suppliers, will reduce global corn exports to their lowest volume in three years, said USDA analysts on Wednesday. Shipments from another leading source, Ukraine, were in question because an extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative past March 18 has not been resolved.

Brazil says farmers can grow and market GMO wheat

Brazil, one of the world's most populous nations, has joined neighboring Argentina in approval of the cultivation and sale of wheat that is genetically modified to resist drought — another milestone in the campaign to apply biotechnology to food directly consumed as part of the human diet.

Despite small crop, U.S. is top cotton exporter

U.S. cotton exports will shrink by 14 percent this trade year, the result of a drought-stunted crop, but America will remain the No. 1 supplier to the world market, said the USDA on Thursday.

Global demand for biofuels to slow in decade ahead, says forecast

Corn will become less important and sugarcane will become the dominant feedstock for making ethanol in the coming decade, said an agricultural outlook published jointly by the OECD and FAO on Wednesday. The report forecast a relatively slow growth rate for biofuels, averaging 0.6 percent a year worldwide, with growth in the United States constrained by declining gasoline consumption.

‘Phase one’ was doomed to disappoint, and it did, say analysts

The 2020 agreement that de-escalated the Sino-U.S. trade war set unrealistically high goals for U.S. exports to China and failed to deliver on them by large margins, say analysts. Overall, China bought just 57 percent of the goods and services it committed to buying as part of the “phase one” agreement. The agriculture sector, at 83 percent, came closest to reaching its export goal.

Brazil may feel fertilizer pinch more than U.S.

U.S. farmers face sky-high fertilizer prices as the spring planting season approaches, but their supply may be more assured than that of Brazil growers in the wake of economic sanctions on Russia, said three university economists. Brazil imports 85 percent of its fertilizer, with Russia ordinarily supplying one-fifth of it.

A bio-economy in the Amazon to prevent deforestation

In the Amazon rainforest of Brazil, a nascent but significant movement is underway to protect the rainforest by connecting small-scale producers tapping rubber trees with multinational brands, report Brian Barth and Flávia Milhorance in FERN's latest story, produced with The New Republic.(No paywall)

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