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Corn Exports Shrivel as U.S. Ethanol Demand Grows

As the world’s biggest exporter of corn diverts more and more of its crop to make fuel, it’s sending less to the global marketplace.
August 30, 2012

As an increasing amount of U.S. corn is being used to meet rising ethanol demand, the United States—the world’s dominant producer and exporter of corn—is exporting less.

The first chart shows how the use of U.S. domestic corn has changed over time. The portion of U.S.-grown corn used to make fuel reached 40 percent last year, and will be about the same this year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. At the same time, the worst drought in half a century throughout the Midwest corn belt has led to severely shrunken forecasts for this year’s United States corn crop, raising concerns that exports will further decrease, intensifying the risk of an international food crisis.

The second chart shows the annual U.S. corn exports since 2005. Though the number of U.S. acres planted with corn was the highest since the late 1930s, this year, U.S. exports have been on a steady decline, dropping from over 60 percent of the world’s corn exports in 2005 to less than 40 percent last year.

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