America may export more grain to feed cattle, pigs and poultry than any other country, but it’s losing share in its own backyard.
Because most of the corn and soybeans harvested across the Midwest come from genetically modified seed and use crop chemicals shunned by the organic industry, an increasing amount of specialty grain used to produce organic milk, eggs and meat is being imported from places like Romania and India. Purchases more than doubled last year and are rising again this year, government data show.
While organic feed remains a tiny portion of the U.S. grain market, it is growing rapidly. Consumers have tripled spending on organic food over the past decade to more than $35 billion in 2014, the industry estimates. Demand for specialty grain to feed dairy cows, hogs and egg-laying hens is out-pacing domestic harvests, so importers are taking advantage of a strong dollar and cheap freight to buy more from overseas.
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