Exports and Value-Added Agriculture
Farmers live in a changing economy and face many situations in which
they have no control - prices, weather and disease. This requires many
decisions: what crops to grow, which seeds to buy, how to grow them and
get the best yield per acre, how to get crops to market, as well as how
to find new uses for corn and soybeans.
The U.S. exports
corn to over 100 countries.
is a major contributor to the corn market.
Most of U.S. corn is transported down the Mississippi River and through
the port of New Orleans.
U.S. corn exports
supply top markets such as Japan, Taiwan, Mexico, South Korea, and Egypt.
Even smaller markets import a lot of U.S. corn including countries in
Central America and nations in the Caribbean.
Value-added agriculture transforms crops and livestock into products
of greater value.
What is value-added agriculture?
Value-added agriculture is increasing the economic value of an
agricultural commodity through changes in genetics, processing or
Value-added agriculture means taking crops such as corn or soybeans
and livestock such as cattle, hogs, turkeys, chickens, or sheep
and adding more uses to them to give them more value, increase job
opportunities and expand agricultural markets.
The Kool-Aide Stand
A packet of unmixed Kool-Aide might be worth 25 cents, and one
cup of sugar is another 25 cents. The water used to make the Kool-Aide
is 1 cent. By processing these ingredients and marketing them they
become "value-added." A pitcher of Kool-Aide may bring
$3 when marketed at 25 cents per cup, and the ingredients cost 51
As a leading agricultural processing state, Iowa transforms millions
of bushels of corn into value-added products such as corn oil, starches,
sweeteners and animal feed ingredients, much of it for export.
One hundred countries buy U.S. processed corn products, including nations
as distant as Swaziland, Kazakhstan, and French Polynesia as reported
by the U.S.
Department of Commerce.
Iowa poultry, pork and beef (fed with Iowa corn) are exported around
Other value-added products are made from corn such as hand cleaner, graffiti
remover, candles, and plastic silverware.
Iowa's most widely known value-added product is ethanol, a corn-based
fuel blended into gasoline.
Photos used by permission from the USDA
Online Photography Center.