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Ports in the Gulf Show Signs of Life Post-Ida, But Export Volumes Still Below Normal

Reuters writer Julie Ingwersen reported earlier this week that, “U.S. grain exports increased last week as shippers along the Louisiana Gulf Coast recovered from flooding and widespread power outages caused by Hurricane Ida’s Aug. 29 landfall, but volumes were much lower than normal, preliminary data showed on Monday.

“Just seven export vessels were loaded with grain and soybeans at Louisiana Gulf Coast terminals in the week ended Sept. 16, down from 23 vessels in the same week last year, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) data showed.

Ida crippled overseas grain shipments weeks before the start of the Midwest harvest and the busiest period for U.S. crop exports, sending export prices soaring and stoking global worries about food inflation.”

The Reuters article noted that, “Weekly USDA grain inspections data, an early indicator of shipments abroad, showed the volume of corn weighed and certified for export last week reached 403,104 tonnes, up from the previous week’s revised tally of 159,429 tonnes, an 8-1/2 year low.”

Ms. Ingwersen added that, “The USDA said 199,849 tonnes of corn and 150,272 tonnes of soybeans in the latest week were inspected along the Louisiana Gulf Coast. The figures marked an improvement from the prior week, when no grain was inspected at the busiest outlet for U.S. crops.

Still, for corn, the latest figure was down about 48% from the year-ago inspections figure of 768,084 tonnes.

Dow Jones writer Kirk Maltais reported earlier this week that, “The USDA said Monday that grain export inspections have rebounded in the past week, with ports in the Gulf damaged by Hurricane Ida beginning to show signs of life. In this week’s report, the USDA said that for the week ended September 16 corn export inspections totaled 403,104 metric tons, soybean inspections totaled 275,169 tons, and wheat inspections totaled 563,390 tons.

“Ida Puts America’s Grain Export Infrastructure to the Test,” by Kevin Varley. Bloomberg News (September 2, 2021).

“For corn and soybeans, their totals are sharply higher from last week’s figures. China was a big destination for U.S. corn this week, with shipments totaling 140,245 tons, second only to Mexico. China was also a leading destination for U.S. wheat and soybeans.”

Meanwhile, a separate Reuters News article this week reported that, “China’s August soybean imports from Brazil rose 10.9% from the same month last year, customs data showed on Monday, while shipments from the United States fell sharply.

“China, the world’s top importer of soybeans, brought in 9.04 million tonnes of the oilseed from Brazil in August, up from 8.15 million tonnes a year earlier, data from the General Administration of Customs showed.”

The Reuters article noted that, “In contrast, imports from the United States last month fell to 17,575 tonnes, down 89.4% from 166,370 tonnes in August 2020.”

“Overall, China imported 9.49 million tonnes of soybeans in August, slightly down from 9.6 million tonnes a earlier,” the Reuters article said.

Keith Good Photo

Keith Good is the Farm Policy News editor for the farmdoc project. He has previously worked for the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, and compiled the daily News Summary from 2003-2015. He is a graduate of Purdue University (M.S.- Agricultural Economics), and Southern Illinois University School of Law.

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