Tricia Braid

Feb 22, 2017  |  Today's News

The news is ripe with talk about agricultural trade. We’re getting calls and emails into this office, and some of you might be getting calls and emails from the media looking for your input for the discussion. We hope that the following information will be of use. IL Corn knows that foreign market access is a key component of your demand picture, and therefore your profitability.

In 2016, Mexico became the largest U.S. market for corn. But what portion of that market does Illinois own? That’s really hard to pin down. Due to how export data is tracked, we only know the value of corn sales that originated in Illinois. Or in other words, we don’t know how much corn grown in Illinois ended up in Mexico. We only know that sales figures reported back to an Illinois merchandiser. We believe, however, that these numbers are vastly under representative of the true figures.

Here’s the breakdown for 2016, specific to Illinois, based on U.S. Census Bureau Trade Data, U.S. State Export Data.

  • Corn                         $195,308,297
  • Ethanol                        $4,001,876
  • Distillers Grains          $3,405,778
  • TOTAL VALUE:       $202,715,951

If we want to turn that into volume, rather than value, let’s look at the marketing year of Sept 2015-Aug 2016. For that time, the total value of corn exported to Mexico with the merchandising originating in Illinois was $266,932,654. The 2016 marketing year average price of corn in Illinois was $3.65. So given that figure, the sales account for 73,132,234 bushels of corn in the 2016 marketing year.

Remember: we know that this isn’t a true reflection of how much of your corn went to Mexico by volume, it’s just an estimate of the export sale value that was filed by an Illinois exporter. To illustrate this, understand that Louisiana shows up as having exported over $684 million worth of corn in the same marketing year. That’s almost 190 million bushels worth, which is more than double their 2016 production of 90.8 million bushels.

Here’s something we know for sure. For the 2016 crop, we expect 39% of that to leave Illinois by road, river, or rail as commodity corn. We also know that corn leaves Illinois by other means: ethanol, DDGS, or meat. If we start doing the figuring, we’ll quickly get to the point where over half the corn you grow leaves the State. That makes sense given our competitive advantage with regard to transportation opportunities.

Industry guesses pinpoint that about half of the corn that is exported to Mexico is grown right here in Illinois, and arrives in Mexico via rail or river (via the Gulf). That brings are total for Illinois-originated corn in at something like 225 million bushels.