Agricultural prices continued higher over the past five years. At the same time, input costs rose for raising and feeding livestock.
Higher prices of meat and dairy products could moderate expected exports.
Price volatility remains a big issue facing U.S. farmers. That includes uncertainties in weather, international markets and domestic use.
While trade agreements smooth the way for many exports, trade impediments remain important in determining products traded.
Advancement in improved genetics affects trade as well. Better breeding allows U.S. farmers to produce more products more efficiently at lower cost.
Increasingly, genetics in the form of semen are being exported to livestock producers around the world.
Export of beef cattle semen straws far exceeds use by U.S. producers. On the dairy side, milk producers continue to use more artificial insemination than their foreign competitors.
Export of live animals increased almost three-fold in the last two years.
Brown says economics comes into play on where production grows. Much depends on comparative advantages, here or over there.
"Economics determines that a country specializes in producing and exporting only goods which it can make more efficiently – at lower opportunity costs. A country without that advantage should import products."
U.S. farmers using improved genetics can compete in the world market. Genetics from tested and proven sires leads to higher quality.
Brown is senior economist of Agricultural Markets and Policy in the MU Division of Applied Social Sciences.
He spoke at the U.S. Livestock Genetic Export annual meeting.