The U.S. Grains Council has provided an update on the trade situation with Japan following its devastating earthquake and tsunami. The council, founded in 1960, has offices in Tokyo and elsewhere around the world, where it develops export markets for U.S. barley, corn, grain sorghum and related products.
The Japanese government's latest tally of damage to the nation's agricultural sector reports that more than 59,000 acres in the Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures were flooded and may be polluted with high levels of salt. Total farmland loss across 16 prefectures is valued at $3.39 billion, and facility and equipment losses valued at $2.47 billion. Loss of livestock facilities, crops and animals is estimated at $84 million as of April 11. Finally, there are significant condition problems among surviving livestock in affected areas, due to disruption of normal feeding.
On a positive note, the six feed mills in Hachinohe are expected to produce their normal varieties of compound feed, beginning this week, and breakwaters at Hachinohe port are being repaired and the port draft is being restored to 13 meters (42.6 feet).
The U.S. Grains Council's Tokyo office also reports that the first grain vessel is scheduled to berth at Kashima port within the next few days, and that Kashima's 12 feed millers produced more than 32,000 metric tons of compound feed in March despite the earthquake. Japan's southern grain ports were not affected by the earthquake and tsunami and have been able to compensate for the closures at northern ports.
Similarly, Japanese feed manufacturers have increased production at unaffected mills to maintain feed supplies. Three Kashima facilities produced more feed this March than in 2010 to help cover demand in the Tohoku area.
As of April 7, Japan's purchases of U.S. corn (year-to-date sales plus outstanding purchases) totaled 10.6 million metric tons (418.8 million bushels), a 1.5 percent increase from the 10.5 mmt (412.5 million bushels) purchased at the same time last year.
On Corn Commentary, the award-winning NCGA web blog, you can read about efforts by corn growers in Nebraska to donate grain to support Red Cross efforts to help those affected by the Japan earthquake and tsunami.