THAI FOOD SURPLUS SPELLS COMPETITION FOR US FARMERS

THAI FOOD SURPLUS SPELLS COMPETITION FOR US FARMERS

Thailand is one of the few developing countries with a substantial food surplus, says an Agriculture Department report. And that is important to U.S. farmers.

In the last 20 years, the Southeast Asian country of 56 million people has established itself as a strong competitor in world feedgrain markets, the report said.Recent years have shown Thailand to be the world's largest rice exporter, the fifth-largest corn exporter and an important exporter of sorghum, all commodities that rank highly as U.S. exports.

But Thailand also is boosting livestock output, according to the report by Sara J. Schwartz and Douglas H. Brooks of the department's Economic Research Service. Looking ahead to the turn of the century, that raises some possibilities.

Under a "moderate growth" scenario developed for the study, Thailand's rice and poultry meat exports "may increase substantially" by the year 2000. Other livestock also are likely to increase.

Thus, according to the report, Thailand's corn exports could decline significantly over the next decade as more feed is needed for livestock.

"Expectations of Thailand's falling corn exports and rapidly rising imports of oilseed meal (for high-protein animal feed) can create important market opportunities for U.S. corn and soybean meal exporters," the report said. "However, the United States may face increasing competition in world rice and poultry meat markets."

The projections showed Thailand's poultry meat production could more than double by 2000 as domestic and export demands increase. Pork production also could more than double "if incomes continue to rise and marketing constraints are relaxed," the report said.