U.S. farmers and ranchers are poised to achieve $104.5 billion in export sales, according to USDA. That's $8 billion more than last year. Fueling the higher number are record sales in the first half of the fiscal year—$59 billion.
Asia is forecast to surpass the Western Hemisphere as the largest regional market for U.S. exports. China was the top market during the first six months of the fiscal year, purchasing $10.6 billion of U.S. agricultural products. Other leading customers include other Asian countries, the European Union, Turkey and North Africa.
Higher soybean exports contributed most to the improved overall trade forecast, with exports spurred by record U.S. soybean production and record early season sales to China. The fiscal 2010 forecast for oilseeds and products is increased to $24.4 billion. Soybeans and soybean meal account for much of the rise. Not only was the volume of soybean exports up 4%, but the soybean meal export forecast is raised $700 million on higher volume and unit value. Reduced exports from South America and India have led to larger export volumes to markets in Asia and Europe.
Grain and feed exports are forecast at $26 billion, largely due to greater volumes of wheat, rice, and feed/fodder. Wheat is raised $300 million from the February estimate to $5.3 billion, reflecting strong demand in Morocco and Nigeria for high-quality wheat. The forecast export value for coarse grains is increased $100 million since February to $9.8 billion. This is mostly due to an upward revision in sorghum volume and unit value, reflecting stronger demand from both Mexico and Japan. Corn value is unchanged as a small price boost from China's recent purchases is offset by strong competition from Argentina. Feeds and fodders are up $500 million, primarily from distiller's dried grains (DDG). Key markets are Canada, China, and Mexico. Rice exports are up $200 million to $2.1 billion due to higher than expected sales to East Asia, the Middle East, and South America. These sales have pushed the volume forecast up by 400,000 tons to 3.9 million tons.
Cotton exports are also forecast up due to higher prices and tighter supplies among competing exporters. The forecast for horticultural exports is raised due to strong exports to Canada of fresh fruits and vegetables along with surging tree nut shipments to China and Hong Kong. Meanwhile, dairy, livestock, and poultry exports are forecast up only slightly as gains in broiler meat and hides and skins outweigh smaller exports of beef and pork variety meats.