USDA predicts record-breaking farm exports in 2021

Fiscal year (FY) 2021 is expected to be a good year for U.S. farm exports, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

In the latest quarterly agricultural trade forecast, the agency projected FY 2021 U.S. farm exports to total $164 billion, the highest ever on record.

“U.S. agricultural trade has proven extraordinarily resilient in the face of a global pandemic and economic contraction,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said in a statement. “It’s clear that trade remains a critical engine powering the agricultural economy and the U.S. economy as a whole.”

The report projects an increase of $7 billion in trade since February’s forecast. USDA noted key factors include record export volumes for several commodities including corn, soybeans, livestock, poultry and dairy products.

Another major influence is continued rising demand from China for U.S. agricultural products. In its forecast, USDA noted exports to China are predicted to be a historic $35 billion, topping FY 2014’s $29.6 billion-record. After China, the U.S.’s largest export markets are Canada, Mexico, Japan, the European Union and South Korea.

Foreign demand for U.S. corn is expected to remain strong amid unfavorable crop prospects in Brazil and other South American countries, driving projected export totals up $3.2 billion since February’s forecast to $17.2 billion.

Soybean exports are projected up $1.5 billion to $28.9 billion, thanks primarily to surging demand from China, according to USDA. Sorghum exports are now expected to increase to $2.4 billion, with the majority of that headed to China, as well.

Livestock, poultry and dairy exports are expected to bring $34.2 billion in FY 2021, up $1.6 billion from February predictions. USDA noted beef, pork, dairy products and poultry exports are experiencing strong demand across Asian markets.

China and South Korea are mainly responsible for increased beef unit values and volumes, while China is experiencing growth in demand for chicken and egg products.

FY 2021 cotton exports have seen a boost since February’s report, too. U.S. cotton exports are now forecasted to bring in $6.1 billion due to rising use in major consumers including China, Vietnam and Pakistan.

According to the USDA’s analysis, horticultural exports and whole and processed tree nuts were the only two major commodities expected to see small declines in FY 2021, with losses of $400 million each.

“Ensuring that all U.S. producers and exporters have access to global markets is a key to building back better and ensuring the continued strength and resiliency of rural America,” Vilsack said.

The last annual export record of $152.3 billion was set in FY 2014.

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