Failure by the U.S. House of Representatives to pass a five-year farm bill before adjourning last month may mark the beginnings of a drought on U.S. agricultural exports, according to a letter from the Nebraska Corn Board that was sent to the Nebraska Congressional delegation and Rep. Frank Lucas, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.

During a conference call organized by the U.S. Grains Council last week, Nebraska farmer Curt Friesen, who is vice-chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board, was notified that a trade mission organized by the Council to promote corn exports was indefinitely postponed.

In total, three trade missions, one each focusing on corn, sorghum and barley, have been postponed.

Such missions are typically supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Market Development (FMD) funding with additional support from commodity checkoff dollars like from the Nebraska Corn Board.

The funds are also used to keep trade offices open in numerous foreign countries.

In part, what is at stake by not passing a farm bill is the type of promotional efforts farmers use to expand trade and defend markets of all ag goods, from corn and soybeans to beef and pork.

Agriculture exports are one of the few shinning stars in helping create a positive balance of trade for the United States. According to USDA, agricultural exports during the 2011 calendar year totaled some $136 billion dollars, while corn exports totaled nearly $14 billion.