Colorado's Farm Exports Dip Slightly

Big sales continue abroad, but fewer dollars returned.

Published on: Jul 26, 2013

While Colorado farmers have been riding a crest of rising export returns, the first quarter of 2013 resulted in a slight fall from previous levels, a new Colorado Department of Agriculture report says.

Since  2009, ag exports from the Rocky Mountain state have enjoyed a crescendo of nearly 73% growth. But the first of quarter of the year revealed a decline of 2.7% from the same period a year earlier, while nationally farm exports were up more than 6%.

Looking at the export trends for Colorado reveals insights into the marketing challenges that the industry is facing:

•U.S. exports of beef products were up 4.3% for the first quarter, but for Colorado beef exporters the total decreased by nearly 4%

Colorado cattle have been experiencing export sales losses, following a period of high growth in sales abroad and to Mexico.
Colorado cattle have been experiencing export sales losses, following a period of high growth in sales abroad and to Mexico.

•Colorado dairy also saw export problems, but the decline in milk exports is attributed to an increase in local use rather than a cutback in foreign demand. New cheese production in the northeast state is consuming much of the milk that formerly was sold abroad.

•Colorado beef hides  continued to be a strong contender in exports however, with sales off coast up 22.3% compared with only a 15.6% increase nationally.

•Drought continues to have an impact on all of the state's agricultural economy, with a particularly hard hit on the millet  export industry which saw a $5 million decline in business earlier this  year over the comparative period a year earlier. However, anticipated new planting expansions are expected to provide for a rebound with this year's harvest.

Colorado's ag export  business declined $9.4 million to $337.4 million in the troublesome first quarter, reports the department.

In beef, Mexico – the state's third largest  export market for  meat – decreased imports, resulting in a $19 million loss for Colorado protein. At the same time, Russia closed its doors to U.S. beef, resulting in additional industry losses in Colorado and throughout the nation.