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 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.