Colorado Corn | March 16, 2020
Colorado Grain Corn Farmer Talks Production, Trade in Latin America
Written by Mike Lefever — As a member of U.S. Grains Council, I was fortunate to be part of a trade mission in January where we met with buyers and end users from Guatemala, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic. Latin America consists of twenty countries and 14 dependent territories. This region covers approximately thirteen percent of the earth’s land surface and has a population of 654 million people. The primary languages are Spanish and Portuguese.
Mike Lefever shared insights about farming along with details from the 2019/2020 U.S. Grains Corn Harvest Quality Report in Guatemala (shown above), Costa Rica and Dominican Republic. Lefever is a board director of Colorado Corn Administrative Council and National Corn Growers Association. He also serves on U.S. Grains Council Western Hemisphere Advisory Team.
On day one our first presentation was a corn harvest quality report in Guatemala to their poultry and dairy associations, grain suppliers, feed producers, livestock producers, feed ingredients storage facilities and sanitary authorities. Later that day we had one on one meetings with Corperacion Multi Inversiones (CMI) www.cmi.co, which is the largest poultry producer in Central America with sales of over $3 billion in USD. Their grain inventory policy is 28 days. Note: when we have issues on the Mississippi, they have to look elsewhere for feed. Makes a strong argument for updating our waterways infrastructure!
Two days after these meetings, the Guatemalans placed an overnight trade order in for 143,948 metric tons of corn! Was it because of our trip and the work by with the USGC? We’d like to think so!
In Costa Rica we gave two more corn harvest quality reports, one to Groupon Bios (poultry producer) and another to the largest dairy producer in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Panama. Dos Pinos has 200,000+ cows, over 93,000 are in production. They are a large buyer of US corn! Between these two companies, they import nearly thirty percent of Costa Rica’s corn.
We met with poultry and dairy associations, feed producers, and feed ingredients storage facilities in the Dominican Republic. The group spent an afternoon with Pollo Cibao. Their production capacity is 2.4 million chickens, which is 33% of the Dominican market. They are responsible for 2700 jobs and produce a four and a half to five-pound chicken in just 36 days. They have invested over $50 million in their operation over the past three years.
Our last meeting was with Dom Osmar Benitez, the Minister of Agriculture of the Dominican Republic where we discussed DDGS in detail. If we get a container to them, they will have an animal nutritionist from their university, and an expert from USGC conduct weight gains to determine future use. This could open a substantial market on the island! Colorado, Kansas and anyone else that would like to participate will work together with USGC for follow-up.
In summary, this was an extremely educational and eye-opening trip for me. Our customers are very educated about corn quality and were aware of America’s weather issues this past year. With all the handling from the combine to the bins, to the elevator, to the rail cars or barges and to the ships ending at their final destinations, they are concerned with the potential for damaged kernels and for the possible development of mycotoxins.
I believe without the work of U.S. Grains Council it would be very difficult to find new customers and retain the current ones. When an end user has questions, problems, or concerns, their go-to problem solver is the U.S. Grains Council. I am confident this trip did and will continue to move corn and DDGS for U.S. farmers!
Check out the 2019/2020 U.S. Grains Corn Harvest Quality Report