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News 1466 views last update:14 Jan 2016

Drought forces US to import Brazilian corn

Port Manatee in Florida (USA) will be handling 150,000 tonnes or more of corn imported from Brazil for animals that have been affected by the extreme US drought in the Midwest and Southeast, a port official said.

"Port Manatee is going to be front and center, with a significant volume of animal feed imports," said Carlos Buqueras, the port's executive director, during a meeting of the Manatee County Port Authority.

Buqueras said he has already arranged for shipment of about 150,000 tonnes, and is expecting to firm up another deal to handle perhaps another 500,000 tonnes or more.

"From what I understand, it's a million tonnes of grain that needs to be imported," Buqueras told county commissioners, who also sit as the Port Authority board.

He did not name which companies planned to import the grain. "We don't have the name yet, because we're working through trading companies," explained Buqueras.

Two big US players, pork processor Smithfield Foods, and poultry producer Pilgrim's Pride, have already announced they will be importing corn from Brazil, Reuters reported.

Government support
The worst US drought in half a century has sent domestic corn prices through the roof, and made imports more attractive.

US poultry integrators, who usually make their own feeds, are shopping the global market through traders.

According to the Associated Press, President Barack Obama is directing the Agriculture Department to authorize an additional $30 million to help crop and livestock producers in drought-stricken areas of the US.

The spending does not require congressional approval, and the money has already been allocated to the department.

Obama also called on Congress to pass a farm bill languishing on Capitol Hill. He says passing the five-year, $500 billion farm bill would give farmers much-needed certainty.

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