The U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (CTPA) will establish a 2.1 million metric ton (82.6 million bushel) zero tariff rate quota (TRQ) for U.S. yellow corn, according to details released earlier this month. The 25 percent duty on corn imported over the quota will be phased out over 12 years. White corn will receive a 136,000 ton (5.35 million bushel) zero TRQ and sorghum a 21,000 ton (826,728 bushel) TRQ. The over-quota duties on both will be phased out over 12 years as the TRQs expand 5 percent, compounded per year, during the transition period. Tariffs on malting barley, distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and corn gluten feed will be immediately eliminated upon implementation. “Under the CTPA, U.S. feed grains will no longer be subject to the Andean Price Band System, which is good news for U.S. producers,” noted Kevin Natz, USGC director of trade policy. “In addition, Colombia has agreed not to impose any domestic content requirement to absorb local crops as a precondition to import.” Once the Bush Administration notifies Congress of it’s intent to sign the agreement, there is a 90-day waiting period before it can be signed. The U.S. and Colombian Congresses must then approve the CTPA before it can go into effect. 

Biotech test plots in South Africa, conducted by AfricaBio, are having a direct impact on regulation in Kenya. Earlier this week, the Kenyan parliament rejected a motion to ban all genetically modified organisms – including biotech grains. Several of the parliamentarians participated in the Decision Makers Biotechnology Fact-Finding Mission to South Africa in May, where they visited the test plots and received science-based information on the use and safety of biotechnology. “Through the efforts of the Council and our partners, we were able to provide Kenya’s elected officials with the factual information they needed to make an educated decision on biotechnology,” remarked Gretchen Flanley, USGC director of biotechnology programs. The U.S. Grains Council supports AfricaBio in various outreach activities including the demonstration plots and field visits.

 Nutritionists in Mexico received in-depth information on the use of distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) during a recent USGC workshop in Puerto Vallarta. “We discussed everything from DDGS use in dairy, swine and poultry feed to shipping logistics and current pricing indicators,” reports Ryan LeGrand, USGC manager of international operations, who participated in the seminar. Ricardo Celma, USGC director – Mexico, opened the workshop with an overview of the U.S. ethanol industry and world grain supply and demand. USGC consultants Amy Batal of the University of Georgia and Bob Thaler and Alvaro Garcia, both of South Dakota State University, spoke about the use of DDGS in poultry, swine, dairy and beef rations to ensure livestock receive optimal nutrition. Attendees included nutritionists from several milling companies as well as nutrition consulting companies. LeGrand reports they expressed interest in DDGS integration in feed rations. “Some of the nutritionists work for Mexican feed mills that already import U.S. DDGS, but others were not certain of its benefits as a feed ingredient,” he noted. “I think most of those who were unfamiliar with DDGS now understand its value.” He added that Mexico holds great market potential for this ethanol co-product. DDGS sales of 162,813 metric tons during the first six months of 2006 are more than 254 percent higher than they were during the same period last year, already surpassing the total 2005 sales by more than 30,000 metric tons. As ethanol production expands in the United States, increasing amounts of DDGS will be available for feed use. The U.S. Grains Council, through programs like this, is educating nutritionists and grain buyers around the world on the use of DDGS in livestock feed, creating demand for the ethanol co-product.

Corn exports are lending a boost to the value of U.S. agricultural exports, according to the U.S. Agricultural Trade Update released August 11 by the USDA. According to the report, the value of corn exports from October 2005 to June 2006 increased by 24 percent over the previous yearto more than $4.4 billion. In comparison, overall agricultural export value for the same period increased 9 percent compared to the previous year. The volume of corn exports also rose 17 percent to 40.25 million metric tons (1.58 billion bushels) for the October-June period. Japan continues to lead the list of top U.S. corn customers, followed by Mexico, South Korea, Taiwan and Egypt. “Of the approximately 6 million ton (236 million bushel) increase, South Korea led with a 2.65 million ton (104 million bushels) gain in imports of U.S. corn,” noted Kevin Natz, USGC director of trade policy. “U.S. corn has benefited from less competition in South Korea when China withdrew from the export market earlier this year.”

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