Although growing conditions may vary from year to year, U.S. grades and safety standards for grain remain stable.

The U.S. grain marketing system ensures that domestic and export buyers receive safe cargoes of corn based on buyer-seller contract terms and the minimum requirements of U.S. grain grades and standards.

The U.S. Grains Council closely monitors aflatoxin levels in the United States so it can appropriately address the concerns of its global customers. The Council's annual U.S. Corn Harvest Quality Report, set to be released at the end of November, will be a key tool in releasing this information.

This year's drought and high temperatures across the Midwest have raised concerns about possibly higher levels of aflatoxin, which in elevated levels in feed can cause sickness or death in animals.

Aflatoxin occurs naturally in crops, usually at very low levels that do not pose a threat to animal health.

The U.S. grain marketing system monitors corn continuously to ensure that corn with elevated levels of aflatoxin are not transported. Safety standards for U.S. corn are the same for both domestic and export shipments.

All corn export shipments from the United States are tested for aflatoxin, and buyers can specify additional testing should they choose.

Jay O'Neil of Kansas State University noted that any graded grain, such as No. 2 or No. 3 U.S. corn, can contain only 20 ppb aflatoxin or less for it to be exported. "This is one way foreign buyers are protected," he said.