Not all economic news is bad. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer says an updated quarterly forecast for U.S. agricultural exports is record news — to the tune of 108.5 billion for fiscal year 2008. Better yet, corn and soybeans look to be huge hits on the export scene.
This upward revision is a $7.5 billion increase from February’s previous record forecast and $26.5 billion above the final 2007 exports. Grains and animal products account for two-thirds of the export gains.
"America’s increased export volume in bulk commodities like corn, other animal feeds, and soybeans make agriculture the bright spot in the overall balance of trade," says Schafer. "U.S. producers are on track to export a record 63 million tons of corn, and set new export volume and value records for pork. Export volumes and values are also up for many horticultural products with sales growth to Canada and the European Union being exceptionally strong."
Asia continues to be an important growth market for U.S. agricultural commodities. U.S. exports to China are forecast to reach a record $10.5 billion, up almost $3.4 billion from 2007 levels. Canada and Mexico remain the United States’ top two markets worldwide with exports forecast to reach $30.5 billion in 2008 — some $5 billion above 2007.
While agricultural imports in two-way trade with the U.S. will also increase (USDA forecasts a record $78.5 billion total), the $108.5 billion in export sales by American growers and ranchers will net a positive agricultural trade surplus of $30 billion for the U.S.
The summary and full report of USDA’s "Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade" may be accessed from the Economic Research Service Web site at www.ers.usda.gov or the Foreign Agricultural Service Web site at www.fas.usda.gov.