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USDA: Ag exports will hit record $145B next year

Michigan Correspondent

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The USDA’s latest Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade in 2013 shows a continuation of a major trend towards increased U.S. exports.

A statement from the USDA describes the trend as an “astonishing” development that began in 2009. Since then, U.S. agricultural exports have grown more than 50 percent in value, from $96.3 billion then to the most recent forecast of $145 billion in 2013.
According to USDA estimates, these exports support more than 1 million American jobs. “Today’s forecast is further confirmation of the concerted effort by President Obama to expand export opportunities and level the playing field for American businesses and workers,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Because USDA is working harder than ever to remove unfair barriers to trade and provide businesses with the resources they need to reach new markets, American agriculture is booming.

“Demand for products like American soybeans, wheat and tree nuts is surging across the world, with notable gains in China, Europe and Southeast Asia expected to support strong cash receipts through (the) year. Earlier (in the) week, USDA forecast net farm income at its second-highest level since the 1970s. Taken together, this data shows a robust agricultural economy poised to recover from the worst drought in more than a generation.”

He went on to say during this time frame more than 1,000 small- and medium-sized U.S. companies participated in 110 USDA-endorsed trade shows in 24 countries, making 12-month projected sales estimated at more than $4.2 billion. Vilsack also said he’s led nearly 150 American businesses on trade missions to China, Colombia, Georgia, Indonesia, Iraq, Panama, Peru, The Philippines, Vietnam and Russia.

He said the USDA has also helped remove barriers to trade that have freed billions of dollars in American-grown products. The Obama administration would like to double exports by 2014 as part of the National Export Initiative; Vilsack urged passage of a new farm bill, as well.

“It is important that Congress help ensure that this success continues by passing a comprehensive, multi-year Food, Farm and Jobs Bill that provides greater certainty for farmers, ranchers and businesses and their millions of customers around the world.”
Specific numbers from the Outlook, released Nov. 29, include a forecast for fiscal year 2013 of a record $145 billion in agricultural exports, up $1.5 billion from the August forecast and $9.2 billion above FY 2012 exports.

Grain and feed exports are forecast down $1.9 billion, primarily because of lower corn exports. Oilseed exports are up $3.3 billion on much higher volumes and record prices, while cotton exports are forecast down $200 million, at least partly because of reduced Chinese demand.

Horticultural exports are unchanged at a record $32 billion. The forecast for livestock, poultry and dairy is down $100 million on lower poultry, beef and cattle exports. Also, U.S. imports are projected at a record $115 billion in FY 2013, up 11 percent from last year’s imports of $103.4 billion. That is down, however, from the August forecast, by $2 billion. 

The reduction is due to significantly lower prices for tropical oils, processed fruits and vegetables, sugar, coffee, rubber and cocoa. The report also forecasts the agriculture trade balance for FY 2013 as a surplus of $30 billion, down $2.4 billion from 2012. In Table 1 of the report, exports for 2007 were $82.2 billion, $114.9 billion for 2008, $96.3 billion for 2009, 108.6 billion for 2010, $137.4 billion for 2011 and $135.8 billion for 2012. Imports for 2007 were $70.1 billion, $79.3 billion for 2008, $73.4 billion for 2009, $79 billion for 2010, $94.5 billion for 2011 and $103.4 billion for 2012.

Balance of trade figures include 2007 at $12.2 billion, $35.6 billion for 2008, $22.9 billion for 2009, $29.6 billion for 2010, $42.9 billion for 2011 and $32.4 billion for 2012.