Corn exports add $74.7b to U.S. economy

Every $1 in grain exports generates an additional $3.23 in business sales across U.S.

Exports of U.S. corn and corn products generated $74.7 billion in annual economic output in 2014, with sales of all U.S. feed grain products contributing $82 billion, according to a new analysis conducted by Informa Economics.

According to the analysis, exports of corn and corn products increased U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) by $29.8 billion over the level that would have occurred without such exports. The number of full-time equivalent jobs linked directly or indirectly to corn exports totaled 332,787.

All feed grains examined – corn, corn products, sorghum and barley – increased the U.S. GDP by $33 billion over what would have otherwise occurred and affected 371,536 jobs.

“Corn – whether in the form of feed, ethanol or meat and dairy – is a major driver of the U.S. farm economy. Exports impact not just farmers and ranchers but the entire U.S. economy,” said National Corn Growers Assn. (NCGA) president Chip Bowling, a farmer from Newburg, Md. “That’s why it’s so important that farmers and ranchers have access to international markets and why we need global trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that give us a chance to compete.”

The study, commissioned by NCGA and the U.S. Grains Council (USGC), quantifies the economic benefits of grain exports both nationally and to each U.S. state and selected congressional districts, showing results for corn, ethanol, dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS), corn gluten feed and the corn equivalent of meats, in addition to sorghum and barley.

It found that every $1 in exports of grains and grain products generates an additional $3.23 in business sales across the U.S. The positive economic effects of corn exports benefit not only agriculture but also wholesale trade, real estate, oil and natural gas production and the banking and financial industries.

“Farming is a global business, and this study shows how immense the impact of grain exports is on not just the agriculture economy but our national economy,” said Alan Tiemann, USGC chairman and a Nebraska farmer. “The work our industry does to build new markets and grow our relationships with those overseas who rely on U.S. grains is critical for U.S. farmers’ profitability.”

The study also touched on the negative consequences to reducing exports of grain products, showing that if these exports were suddenly halted, more than 47,000 jobs and $2.8 billion in GDP would be lost in the farming, ethanol production and meat production industries alone.

Bowling said the study underscores the need for TPP, the trade agreement pending with 11 other countries that will expand farmers’ market access to the Asia-Pacific region.

“America’s farmers and ranchers have a lot to gain from new trade agreements such as TPP, but there is also a consequence for not moving forward,” Bowling said. “Every day we delay (ratifying) TPP means lost markets, which this study demonstrates has a ripple effect throughout the farm economy. That’s why Congress needs to act. The sooner TPP is passed, the better for America’s farmers and ranchers.”

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