Brazilian farmers take advantage of heartland drought

OLATHE, Kan. - Thousands of acres of corn in Kansas and Missouri are ruined. The extreme drought in the heartland has changed the global commodity market for corn.

Farmers in Kansas tell 41 Action News they doubt they'll make enough to break even this year. Yet, where Kansas and Missouri fall short, countries in South and Latin America have caught on, planting millions of acres of corn.

Every time the wind blows, farmer Tom Boehm cant help but cringe. Each crunch represents another burnt stalk. He explains that most stalks have ears inches too short, and some have no ears at all. The leaves have changed from green to gold.

Boehm says he'll be lucky if one-third of his 350 acres is salvageable. His story extends far beyond Kansas.

Nationwide, farmers planted 96 million tons of corn this spring, and half of that is still roasting under the hot summer sun. That is creating a market for farmers 5,000 miles away in Brazil.

Frank Stone is watching closely from the Kansas City Board of Trade. He is the president of the Kansas City Trading Group.

"All corn users around the world will use Brazilian corn as long as its available at a cheaper price," Stone said.

Brazilian corn is around a dollar less per bushel, as American corn prices reach an all-time high.

"So you're going to encourage production all around the world including South America, the question will be whether it's corn or beans and that will depend on the next 45 crucial days. Those days will determine the price of those two commodities in relationship to one another," Stone said.

According to Bloomberg news, Japan, which is the world's largest corn importer, announced it would switch from American corn to Brazilian corn. Even American companies, like Smithfield Foods, have started shipping in from overseas.

Boehm says that's understandable.

"Brazil is our competition, yes. But when we're going to be so low on this crop, more power to them I guess," he said.

Friday marks day 65 of the drought, and farmers in the heartland tell 41 Action News they're forced to make the most of their harvest, and transition their hope to next year's crop.

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