Ag Policy Blog
Chris Clayton DTN Ag Policy Editor

Thursday 05/30/13

USDA Touts Record Trade, But Outlook Lowered

USDA reported Thursday that agricultural exports remain on pace for a record value at $139.5 billion for 2013, even though the outlook was lowered by $2.5 billion from the February estimate.

USDA projects a $28.5 billion positive balance for agricultural trade as the $139.5 billion in ag goods leaving the country crosses paths with $111 billion in agricultural imports.

With $7.6 billion more in ag imports than 2012 figures, that would mean the surplus in agricultural trade would narrow in 2013 by an estimated $3.9 billion.

The outlook report projects U.S. grain and feed exports would be $30 billion, down $2.8 billion. The report shows a $1.2 billion decline in wheat exports, though the data also was compiled and completed before the announcement of finding unauthorized biotech wheat in Oregon that prompted Japan to ban import of white wheat from the Pacific Northwest.

Lower volume of corn exports also brings down coarse grain projections as well with a $1.7 billion decline in sales.

Higher demand for soybean meal raises the outlook for oilseeds to $32.6 billion.

USDA projects livestock dairy and poultry overall sales will be $30.1 billion, which is a record. "Declines in pork, broiler meat and animal fats offset gains for dairy, beef, and hides and skins."

USDA, once again bedeviled by the news, projected a $300 million decline in pork sales. Still, pork sales would be $5 billion, also a record.

Greater access to Japan and Hong Kong could push beef sales to $5.1 billion in 2013.

USDA stated, "Since 2009, U.S. agricultural exports have climbed from $96.3 billion in 2009 to the most-recent forecast of $139.5 billion." Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the current trend in ag exports is "the strongest period of exports in our nation's history." Vilsack cited the administration continues to work on agricultural trade through the Trans-Pacific Partnership and trade talks with the European Union.

"We must continue working to strengthen markets and opportunity in American agriculture. That's one reason why it is important that Congress achieve passage of a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill as soon as possible. Trade promotion efforts provided by the current Farm Bill have been extremely valuable for U.S. producers. A long-term Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would continue these programs, enabling USDA to keep working with producers and businesses to promote their quality products around the world. This is an important step to further increase agricultural exports from the United States and create more good jobs here at home. As we continue our efforts to strengthen agricultural trade, USDA will keep working hard to help Congress pass a multiyear, comprehensive bill as soon as possible."

Top projected 2013 markets for U.S. ag products include:

China, $22.5 billion

Canada, $21 billion

Mexico, $18 billion

Japan, $12.7 billion

European Union, $12.7 billion

The full report can be found at http://www.ers.usda.gov/…

I can be found on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN

Posted at 10:16PM CDT 05/30/13 by Chris Clayton
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