U.S. agriculture industry officials are stepping up efforts to restore barley exports to Japan after a steep and rapid downturn in shipments in recent years.
The U.S. Grains Council recently toured several barley producing states with Japanese agriculture officials in a bid to address the falloff. U.S. exports of barley have fallen from 400,000 metric tons in 2008 to 12,000 metric tons in 2010, according to the council.
The group traveled to Washington, Idaho, Montana and North Dakota to rebuild trade relationships between Japanese buyers and U.S. producers and suppliers.
“As team members learned during the tour, U.S. barley farmers are extremely capable of meeting the demands of Japanese buyers,” said Tommy Hamamoto, USGC director in Japan.
Hamamoto also recently hosted a team of Japanese corn industry representatives to show them U.S. corn supply was of high quality and stable. Japan, the largest U.S. corn export market, accounts for about 30 percent of American corn exports, according to council statistics. Japan last year imported about 15.5 million metric tons of U.S. corn, valued at more than $3 billion.
Although corn harvests have been excellent this year, the USGC warns of a bleak sorghum harvest. The harvest is at 37 percent compared to the 43 percent five-year average, according to a survey of the 11 states that produce 99 percent of the crop. Japan, the second-largest importer of U.S. sorghum, in 2010 bought 700,000 metric tons of the grain, valued at $127 million.