Ag exports expected to reach record levels in FY 2022

By Jennifer Whitlock

U.S. agricultural exports are forecast to reach a chart-topping $177.5 billion for fiscal year (FY) 2022, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS).

In the latest Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade, ERS analysts said soybeans, cotton and horticultural products will fuel the surge of exports.

Revised projections for FY 2021 are up, as well. ERS predicts an increase of $9.5 billion to $173.5 billion total in agricultural exports from Oct. 1, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2021.The increase is attributed to larger-than-expected livestock, poultry and dairy exports.

An updated definition of “agricultural products” to align with that used by the World Trade Organization also contributed to the increases.

Under the new definition, ethanol, distilled spirits and manufactured tobacco products are considered agricultural products, but rubber and allied products are not. Using the new definition, U.S. agricultural exports rose an average of $4.7 billion more annually from 2018-2020.

But what hasn’t changed, according to ERS, is that FY 2021 and 2022 will be one for the books.

Despite lower soybean volumes forecast for FY 2022, values are projected to reach a new record of $32.3 billion. Cotton exports are estimated to rise $500 million for a total of $6.8 billion in value. And horticultural products are slated to bring in a record $37.7 billion, driven by larger exports of tree nuts.

After a strong showing in FY 2021, livestock, poultry and dairy exports are also forecast to gain $400 million in value to $36.8 billion next year, primarily due to growth in the dairy and poultry sectors.

Major trading partners China, Canada and Mexico are expected to import $39, $23.8 and $22.3 billion in U.S. agricultural goods in FY 2022, respectively.

The U.S. should end the year with a positive trade balance, too. ERS calculates U.S. agricultural imports to total $159.5 billion in FY 2022 for a trade surplus of $18 billion.