By Tim Rasmussen, MCGA Agvocate
My favorite season is wrapping up in Minnesota, corn fields are harvested and corn is being delivered to on-farm or off farm storage. My family farm is located in northwest Minnesota in Fergus Falls, MN (Ottertail County) and we recently completed an early plentiful corn harvest. As I was sitting in the seat of the combine some thoughts ran across my mind. Where will the corn be going next after harvest?
Minnesota corn is harvested and put in grain bins, but where does it all go? Where our farm is located, we are fortunate to have access to a nearby ethanol plant as well as a shuttle loader elevator. The ethanol plant is a dry milling ethanol plant that produces home-grown, renewable ethanol to fill our fuel tanks. Ethanol co-products, such as dried distiller grains that are used as livestock feed, are also produced there. This ethanol plant services Minnesota consumers with domestically produced products. The nearby shuttle loader elevator has access to a Burlington Northern Railroad line and is capable of shipping out a 110-car shuttle of corn which is 440,000 bushels (one bushel of corn weighs 56 pounds). As this elevator is on the BN Railroad the majority of corn shipments are sent to the Pacific Northwest export facility in Washington to be loaded on a boat and sent overseas.
According to the U.S. Grains Council, in the past 12 months the largest exports from the United States corn have been delivered to Japan. Japan’s consumer diet is demanding meat and dairy, therefore, my family’s corn can supply their need 6,000 miles away in a form of a cheeseburger (beef cattle) and a glass of milk (dairy cattle). Corn from farmers on the eastern side of Minnesota may be delivered to a river terminal to be put on a barge to send down the Mississippi river system. Where is that corn going? The second largest U.S. corn purchaser is from a neighboring country, Mexico.
Next time you spot a pile of corn, remember that in addition to feeding livestock right here in Minnesota it may be providing food, fuel and fiber for the rest of the world as well.
Learn more about corn production and exports at the U.S. Grains Council website.