According to USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, the United States sold 2.5 million bushels of corn to Spain in January, the first sale of this magnitude to Spain since 1998-99.

The U.S. Grains Council says the shipment reflects an easing of the EU policy on genetically modified organisms, as well as a shortage of feed grains in the region.

In October 2007, importers in Europe indicated a need for 17 million to 18 million metric tons of feed grains in 2008. “That is how bad things are in Europe, due to the ongoing drought,” said Chris Corry, U.S. Grains Council director of international operations.

The shipments come on the heels of a USGC trade delegation visit to Spain and other countries in December 2007, which focused on educating producers, feed millers and processors on the safety and quality of feed grains derived from genetically enhanced seeds.

“Because the tight supply of feed grains has feed millers and producers in a severe price squeeze, the timing is right to try and educate the European Union’s grain industry about biotechnology and elicit their support in addressing policy,” said Dale Artho, U.S. Grains Council chairman.

“They were especially receptive to the idea of relaxing the EU’s GMO policies for U.S. corn. We discussed how corn with plant technology attributes could be utilized in their milling process for feed export markets and how that would reduce the pressure on their domestic markets.”

Artho said Spain’s purchase of U.S. corn is a good sign that the Council’s education efforts are working and gives U.S. producers reason to be optimistic about the potential to export genetically enhanced feed grains to Europe.

Kurt Shultz, U.S. Grains Council director for the Mediterranean and Africa, reported that Spain imported more than 588,100 metric tons (23.1 million bushels) of sorghum from Sept. 1, 2006, through Aug. 9, 2007 — nearly 10 times that country’s sorghum imports for the same period a year ago.

e-mail: erobinson@farmpress.com