When it comes to the U.S. economy, the agriculture industry is a star student. According to the USDA’s fourth quarter outlook for U.S. agricultural trade, agricultural exports will once again exceed imports by more than $20 billion in 2015.
Total ag exports are forecast to be $139.5 billion in 2015, which is down $1 billion from May estimates, but that could still be the third- or fourth-highest total on record, says USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack.
“[This] forecast provides a snapshot of a rural America that continues to remain stable in the face of the worst animal disease outbreak in our nation’s history and while the western U.S. remains gripped by drought,” he says. “Thanks to the resilience of our farmers and ranchers, fiscal years 2009 to 2015 represent the strongest seven years in history for U.S. agricultural trace, with U.S. agricultural product exports totaling more than $911 billion [during that time].”
Highlights of the report include forecasts for 2016, including:
- Coarse grain exports are forecasted to be $11.1 billion – a $300 million increase due to larger sorghum and corn export values.
- Reduced competition from Argentina and Ukraine has upped volume of expected corn exports.
- Sorghum could be up $200 million because of higher expected shipments to China.
- U.S. could gain wheat market share because of tightening supplies in Argentina and Canada. Total export forecast is up $800 million.
- Livestock, poultry and dairy exports could rise another $600 million to $30.4 billion.
- Horticultural products could reach a record $36.5 billion in 2016.
- China, Canada and Mexico are the top three destinations of U.S. agricultural exports.
Meantime, agricultural imports to the U.S. remain on the rise, and this trend is expected to continue. Imports have risen every year for the past five years. Ag imports in 2015 are estimated at $115.5 billion and could rise to $122.5 billion in 2016.
Vilsack says he hopes new trade agreements made possible by the Trade Promotion Authority will continue strong agricultural exports.
“USDA will continue to fight to get the best trade deals for farmers and ranchers that open new markets and new customers to them,” he says. “Expanded trade strengthens the agricultural economy, supports more than one million good-paying American jobs and helps to preserve the rural way of life.”
To read the entire report, visit http://www.ers.usda.gov/media/1893531/ag-trade-file.pdf.