A USGC trade mission visited multiple facilities in Canada exploring opportunities for U.S. corn and DDGS. Photo courtesy of USGC.
ALBERTA, CANADA – The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) visited with cattle feedlots, feed manufacturers and rail facilities around Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, earlier this month to explore the advantage of unit trains carrying U.S. corn and distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) to feedlots in the area.

The trade mission criss-crossed the region looking for opportunities to expand inclusion of U.S. feed grains and co-products in Canadian rations. The Canadian livestock feed demand is highly competitive with many alternative energy and protein feed ingredients available for producers, but the United States is well-positioned to meet this need due to close proximity to northern U.S. ethanol plants as well as the efficiency of transportation by unit train.

“There was a great buzz related to corn availability created during the trade mission,” said Neil Campbell, general manager of Gowans Feed Consulting, who works as a USGC consultant in Canada. “The timing is excellent to promote U.S. corn and DDGS in feedlot diets. The more corn that comes in, the more it will help the supply demand balance on feed grain.”

The first unit train of corn sold in the 2017-18 marketing year was delivered into Lethbridge the week before the recent mission. Thanks to continued market development work by the USGC and its Canadian consultants, more U.S. corn and DDGS will head north in the year to come.

Canada imported 670,000 tonnes (26.4 million bushels) of U.S. corn in 2016-17 as well as 735,000 tonnes of U.S. DDGS, a 13% increase year-over-year. While these sales made Canada the sixth largest market for U.S. DDGS, Canada has the potential to utilize more than 4 million tonnes of DDGS annually, which the council is working to capture.

In the Lethbridge area, U.S. corn can be railed directly into the region on unit trains. Favorable pricing combined with these logistical opportunities promote inclusion into local feed rations, USGC said. The council is working with other Alberta feedlots to support the development of additional trans-loading facilities in the region to further provide opportunities for rail shipments from the United States.

The USGC and Gowans Feed Consulting also developed a relative value calculator that demonstrates the continued advantages of including corn and DDGS into livestock rations, which will further encourage local feedlots to evaluate the competitiveness of U.S. feed grains and co-products. This effort directly supports sales by increasing awareness of when buying opportunities arise.