Good news on the exports front as USDA announces that fiscal year 2012 exports will hit $134.5 billion, up $3.5 billion from the February forecast. That is, however, $2.9 billion less than 2011 exports.
Grain exports are forecast higher in this latest USDA report with increased values for wheat, rice and feed and fodders. That more than offsets softer exports for coarse grains. Oilseeds are up on higher prices and volume, while cotton exports are up solely on volume.
Exports to three top markets - Mexico, Canada and China - are all up, while exports to the European Union are down $1.5 billion due to increased grain and oilseed competition in the region.
U.S. demand remains strong, lifting estimated import value by $1 billion to $107.5 billion from $106.5 billion projected in the February report.
With exports projected up $3.5 billion above February while imports are up only $1 billion, the trade balance for 2012 is a surplus of $27 billion, which is lower than the record set in 2011.
In response to the news, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack comments: "With the release of today's most recent export forecast, we can expect American agriculture to remain a bright spot in our nation's economy in the months to come, supporting more than 1 million American jobs in communities across our country."
He notes that since 2009, farmers and ranchers are set to deliver three of the four highest levels of U.S. ag exports in history.
In the latest USDA forecast, the overall pace of exports is surging, led by a 5.1-million-tons increase in the volume of bulk exports over the February forecast. Consumer-oriented products in particular are soaring through the first six months of the fiscal year, up 15 percent over the first 6 months of 2011. While wheat and soybeans are expected to perform well, it is American-grown high-value products that are performing the best, with the forecast increasing again for horticultural products (particularly tree nuts) and livestock products. Moreover, exports to Canada and Mexico are both forecast up this quarter to new records, respectively, while exports to China are up $1.5 billion due to demand for cotton, pork, dairy, poultry, and tree nuts.
Adds Vilsack: "These figures indicate how demand for the American brand of agriculture continues to soar worldwide, supporting good jobs for Americans across a variety of industries such as transportation, renewable energy, manufacturing, food services and on-farm employment."
The latest export forecast data is available at www.fas.usda.gov under the Quarterly Agricultural Export Forecast link.