Corn Commentary

Turkey Lays an Egg

Just in time for Thanksgiving, the country of Turkey dropped a big, fat egg on grain imports.

The U.S. Grains Council reports that last week, Turkey placed an unexpected ban on imports of biotech crops.

Turkey, the 27th largest export market for all U.S. goods, issued a new regulation on Oct. 26, 2009, placing additional requirements on all food and feed products containing genetically enhanced components. This new regulation essentially came without warning, according to U.S. Grains Council Regional Director in the Middle East and Subcontinent Joe O’Brien. “This ban came at us pretty much out of the blue,” he said. “This regulation impacts everything from a bag of potato chips to grains and co-products.”

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) reported on its Web site that this signifies approval of the fourth draft of a National Biosafety Law and is similar in nature to the draft reviewed last year. O’Brien said the potential impact is substantial to U.S. coarse grains and producers. For example, Turkey is the largest buyer of U.S. corn gluten feed (GCF) and the third-largest buyer of U.S. distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS). Turkey imported 435,378 metric tons of CGF in 2008 and 202,422 tons in the first six months of 2009. Turkey imported 465,212 tons of U.S. DDGS in 2008 and 199,173 tons from January through August of this year. USTR reports the U.S. goods trade surplus with Turkey was $5.8 billion in 2008, an increase of $3.8 billion from 2007. USTR also notes the total value of U.S. “transgenic” crop exports to Turkey exceeded $1 billion in 2007, which are endangered depending on how this new regulation is implemented. O’Brien said one issue currently “up in the air” is the fate of the vessels currently on the water loaded with U.S. goods.

There is a good chance the regulation will be reviewed and possible reversed, but immediately after it was issued last week there was a big holiday in the country, which effectively shut down all government operations (it was Turkey Independence Day). USGC is working with USTR to get the decision changed.