Soy industry warns of Irma impact on exports
September 11, 2017
If Hurricane Irma is expected to have major impact on poultry and other foods based on soybeans, but raw commodities will be less affected because they leave the United States mostly through ports on the Gulf of Mexico and in the Pacific Northwest.
"While soybeans rely less on Atlantic port regions compared to the Mississippi Gulf or the Pacific Northwest (25 percent of soybean exports), the approaching hurricane is still a reason for concern," Mike Steenhoek, the executive director of the Soy Transportation Council, said in an email.
"Moreover, a sizable amount of poultry and meat exports do utilize these port regions. Poultry and meat are our No. 1 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," he added.
Steenhoek noted the 230 mile stretch of the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge, La., to the Gulf of Mexico accounts for 60 percent of soybean exports, 59 percent of corn exports, and 14 percent of wheat exports, but that the Atlantic ports do export small amounts of commodities and finished food products.
Steenhoek also released a list of Agriculture Department data on the top five agricultural products from the Atlantic ports and their percentage of U.S. export totals. The list notes each port region's ranking for waterborne agricultural exports.
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Norfolk — 10th largest ag export port
Includes Newport News, Portsmouth, Chesapeake and Richmond
» Soybeans (4 percent of total U.S. exports)
» Grain products, cereal, flour (3 percent)
» Bulk grains (2 percent)
» Grocery items (10 percent)
» Animal feed (3 percent)
Note: While it isn't a top five exported commodity by tonnage, 18 percent of U.S. soybean oil exports depart from the Norfolk port region. Also 8 percent of meat exports and 5 percent of poultry exports depart from the Norfolk port region.
Savannah — 16th largest ag export port
» Poultry (32 percent of total U.S. exports)
» Raw cotton (16 percent)
» Animal feed (1 percent)
» Grocery items (3 percent)
» Bulbs and seeds (18 percent)
Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale) — 24th largest ag export port
» Grocery items (8 percent of total U.S. exports)
» Poultry (2 percent)
» Non-alcoholic beverages (3 percent)
» Fruit (3 percent)
» Meat (1 percent)
Jacksonville — 20th largest ag export port
» Poultry (9 percent of total U.S. exports)
» Grocery items (8 percent)
» Beer, ale (25 percent)
» Animal feed (1 percent)
» Non-alcoholic beverages (6 percent)
Miami — 23rd largest ag export port
» Grocery items (7 percent of total U.S. exports)
» Non-alcoholic beverages (9 percent)
» Grapefruit (31 percent)
» Citrus fruit juices (12 percent)
» Poultry (1 percent)