Forecast for U.S. Exports Goes Up

Carolina-Virginia farmers should benefit from increased exports.

Published on: Jun 10, 2008

Exported products from the U.S. are expected to reach a record $108.5 billion for fiscal year 2008, according to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer. That revised figure is up $7.5 billion from the previous forecast report, released February 2008. Statisticians at the U.S. Department of Agriculture note grains and animal products will account for two-thirds of the gains reported in the Schafer’s May 30 announcement.

"America's increased export volume in bulk commodities like corn, other animal feeds and soybeans make agriculture the bright spot in the overall balance of trade," says Schafer. "U.S. producers are on track to export a record 63 million tons of corn, and set new export volume and value records for pork. Export volumes and values are also up for many horticultural products with sales growth to Canada and the European Union being exceptionally strong."

Pork, poultry and soybeans, all forecast for increased exports, are important agricultural products in the Carolinas and Virginias.

U.S. exports to China account for a large part of the increases in the revised forecast. China will purchase $10.5 billion in agricultural products from the U.S. in 2008, up nearly $3.4 billion from 2007.

The $108 billion marks a net agricultural trade surplus of $30 billion for the United States. Schafer credits trade agreements, including the North American Free Trade Agreement, for the increase. NAFTA partners Canada and Mexico remain the two top agricultural markets for U.S. products.

Schafer garnered the information for his announcement from the full report, Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade, released May 29. Analysts responsible for the report noted that as the U.S. dollar weakens the world market can afford more U.S. agricultural products, one reason for the favorably revised outlook. At the same time farmer costs are going up. Fertilizer prices were up 65% in April, compared to the same period in 2007, the report noted.

The report also noted the outlook for some important exports is not on the positive side of the revised ledger. While the export forecast for oilseeds is up $2.8 billion from the February forecast, cotton exports, an important money crop in the Carolinas and Virginia region, are now forecast to be $500 million lower than in the previous forecast.

Exports of livestock, poultry and dairy products are forecast at $20.5 billion in 2008, up $2.5 billion from the February numbers. Livestock, particularly poultry, are important export products in the Carolinas and in Virginia.

Learn more from the full report, downloadable from the Foreign Agricultural Service at www.fas.usda.gov/cmp/outlook/2008/May-08/AES-05-29-2008.pdf