The United States is becoming an increasingly important export customer for Canadian grain.
It has always been a significant buyer of Canadian grain, but several factors have greatly increased the cross border flow.
Exports south are growing faster than overall exports, resulting in the U.S. accounting for a larger percentage of the grain export pie.
So it is a good thing to try to fix anything that impedes this trade, including rail car cycle times to the U.S. that are much longer than cycle times to Canadian ports.
The interest in U.S. markets has several drivers.
The end of the CWB monopoly made it much easier for Canadian farmers to directly ship to U.S. buyers. Cash prices offered by American buyers are often higher than those offered by Canadian buyers.
Also, American companies have been building canola crushing plants on the expectation that U.S. farmers will increase production of the crop. But in the first years of operation, these plants are turning to Canadian growers for supply.
As well, Canada’s rail crisis in the last crop year resulted in many plugged elevators. Grain handlers greatly widened their basis to discourage deliveries or simply stopped bidding on grain.
American elevators did not have the transportation problem and so had space and more attractive basis bids. The result was a huge jump in southbound exports in the last crop year.
The U.S. was already the largest buyer of Canadian non-durum wheat, but exports soared 41 percent last year to 3.09 million tonnes. It accounted for 17 percent of all Canadian non-durum wheat exports, up from 14.5 percent the previous year and 10.3 percent in 2010.
The U.S. imported 748,964 tonnes of Canadian durum, up almost 40 percent from the previous year. It accounted for close to 15 percent of all durum exports, up from 12 percent in 2010.
The country was the second largest durum buyer after Italy.
U.S.-bound canola exports soared 128 percent with sales climbing to 1.06 million tonnes, or 11.7 percent of total canola exports.
In 2010, American demand accounted for only 6.7 percent of Canada’s canola exports.
America was the fourth largest buyer after China, Japan and Mexico.
It is also the leading buyer of Canadian canola oil, taking 1.4 million tonnes, or 60 percent of total exports. In 2010, exports south were 1.06 million tonnes
And, you guessed it, it was the leading importer of canola meal with shipments at 3.3 million tonnes, or 96 percent of the total. Back in 2010, Canada shipped only 1.35 million tonnes to the U.S.
The U.S. always takes almost all of Canadian oats exports. Last year it bought 1.57 million tonnes.