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Ag Exports Potentially in Path of Hurricane Irma | KTIC Radio

Ag Exports Potentially in Path of Hurricane Irma

Ag Exports Potentially in Path of Hurricane Irma
Courtesy of NOAA

Hurricanes these days clearly appear to be the natural disaster du jour.  As we monitor Hurricane Irma, some may be curious to know the extent to which agricultural products are exported via the likely affected areas. Below is a quick summary of the key export regions along the Atlantic Coast that could be impacted by the hurricane. I include the top five agricultural exports for each region by volume and the percentage of each commodity’s total exports that depart from that particular port region. Source is the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Norfolk (includes Newport News, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, and Richmond) – 10th largest U.S. port region for waterborne agricultural exports:

1.) Soybeans (4% of total U.S. exports)

2.) Grain Products, Cereal, Flour (3% of total U.S. exports)

3.) Bulk Grains (2% of total U.S. exports)

4.) Grocery Items (10% of total U.S. exports)

5.) Animal Feed (3% of total U.S. exports)

Note: While it isn’t a top five exported commodity by tonnage, 18% of U.S. soybean oil exports depart from the Norfolk port region. Also 8% of meat exports and 5% of poultry exports depart from the Norfolk port region.

Savannah- 16th largest U.S. port region for waterborne agricultural exports:

  • Poultry (32% of total U.S. exports)
  • Raw Cotton (16% of total U.S. exports)
  • Animal Feed (1% of total U.S. exports)
  • Grocery Items (3% of total U.S. exports)
  • Bulbs and Seeds (18% of total U.S. exports)

Port Everglades (Ft. Lauderdale) – 24th largest U.S. port region for waterborne agricultural exports:

  • Grocery Items (8% of total U.S. exports)
  • Poultry (2% of total U.S. exports)
  • Non-alcoholic Beverages (3% of total U.S. exports)
  • Fruit (3% of total U.S. exports)
  • Meat (1% of total U.S. exports)

Jacksonville – 20th largest U.S. port region for waterborne agricultural exports:

  • Poultry (9% of total U.S. exports)
  • Grocery Items (8% of total U.S. exports)
  • Beer, Ale (25% of total U.S. exports)
  • Animal Feed (1% of total U.S. exports)
  • Non-alcoholic Beverages (6% of total U.S. exports)

Miami – 23rd largest U.S. port region for waterborne agricultural exports:

  • Grocery Items (7% of total U.S. exports)
  • Non-alcoholic Beverages (9% of total U.S. exports)
  • Grapefruit (31% of total U.S. exports)
  • Citrus Fruit Juices (12% of total U.S. exports)
  • Poultry (1% of total U.S. exports)

From a soybean and corn logistics perspective, the 230 mile stretch of the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to the Gulf of Mexico is by far our preeminent export region. This area accounts for 60 percent of soybean exports, 59 percent of corn exports, and 14 percent of wheat exports (Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture).

While soybeans rely less on Atlantic port regions compared to the Mississippi Gulf or the Pacific Northwest (25% of soybean exports), the approaching hurricane is still a reason for concern. Moreover, a sizable amount of poultry and meat exports do utilize these port regions. Poultry and meat are our number one domestic customer so any threat to their supply chain has a detrimental impact on the profitability of the U.S. soybean farmer. We are inextricably linked.

As we monitor Hurricane Irma, the hope is that the affected areas will simply incur delays in loading and unloading vessels. Clearly if the hurricane results in damage and destruction to the infrastructure and export facilities themselves, the consequences will be more long lasting.

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