Last month, Wilmington Bulk LLC, a consortium of large hog and poultry producing companies, and trading company Louis Dreyfus Corporation, imported Brazilian soybean meal at a Wilmington, NC, port facility. The American Soybean Association (ASA), National Corn Growers Association, American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and the National Association of Wheat Growers criticized the transaction.

“This situation is very frustrating for U.S. farmers and ranchers,” says ASA President Dwain Ford. “We need to determine what can be done to make U.S. products more competitive.”

U.S. producer groups say the imports reflect the need for better rail transportation to the Southeast, the impact of the strong dollar and high freight rates that limit the competitiveness of U.S. products shipped via the Great Lakes.

This importation isn't likely to be an isolated incident, either, says AFBF President Bob Stallman. “These companies didn't build a new port for just one shipment. There will be other shipments of not only soybean meal, but probably wheat and corn in the future. All producers need to be involved, and we need to work together to address domestic transportation problems.