USDA report predicts record exports

By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, August 31, 2012 - Fiscal 2013 agricultural exports are projected at a record $143.5 billion, according to USDA's quarterly Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade report forecasting exports for fiscal years 2012 and 2013.

The forecast trade balance for fiscal 2013 shows a surplus of $26.5 billion, down $3.5 billion from the revised 2012 forecast, according to the report. The revised trade surplus for 2012 is $30 billion.

“Even with tough odds due to extreme weather, U.S. agriculture is now poised for three consecutive years of record exports, smashing all previous records and putting America's agricultural sector on pace to achieve President Obama's goal under the National Export Initiative of doubling exports by the end of 2014,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in his released statement.

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Fiscal year 2013 grain and feed exports are forecast at a record $39 billion, up $4.4 billion from the 2012 estimate, driven by higher wheat volume and value, but also supported by higher corn value, stated the report. Fiscal 2013 wheat exports are forecast at $12.3 billion, an increase of $3.2 billion. Fiscal 2013 oilseed and product exports are forecast at $28.1 billion, up $400 million from the 2012 estimate, driven by record soybean and soybean meal unit values.

Fiscal 2013 cotton exports are forecast at $4.8 billion, down $1.9 billion from the 2012 estimate.

Exports of livestock, poultry, and dairy products are forecast marginally lower as declines in dairy, pork, and poultry outweigh growth in beef. Fiscal 2013 livestock, poultry, and dairy exports are forecast $200 million lower at $29.9 billion from the previous year.

The fiscal 2012 estimate for grain and feed exports is unchanged at $34.6 billion, but the report indicated there are offsetting changes. Corn exports are cut $800 million to $11.7 billion due to lower volume. Wheat exports are up $600 million to $9.1 billion as higher unit values more than offset reduced volume. Rice exports are down slightly to $2 billion despite higher unit values and a marginal boost in quantity.

U.S. imports are projected at $117 billion in 2013, up from the revised 2012 forecast of $106.5 billion. For 2012 tropical oils, olive oil, coffee and cocoa beans, sugar, and rubber have all experienced price declines as world demand has weakened. These downward price adjustments are expected to boost U.S. agricultural import volume in 2013, stated the report.

"Today's export forecast marks indication of an historic achievement for America's farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses,” Vilsack said. “These exports will support more than 1 million jobs in communities across the country.”

"Congress needs to help ensure that this success continues by passing a comprehensive, multi-year Food, Farm and Jobs Bill that provides greater certainty for farmers and ranchers,” he concluded.

In the report's world economic outlook, trade is expected to grow 2.2 percent in 2012, off sharply from the 6.6 percent growth of 2011. It noted that the main risk to world growth in 2013 is a spillover of the Eurozone problem to North American and Asian financial institutions and markets.

“The dollar is expected to appreciate modestly this year,” according to the report. “The dollar has strengthened, as a Eurozone recession coupled with uncertainty about the evolving Euro debt situation induced a flow into dollar-based assets.”

However, despite a forecast for a modest appreciation in 2012 and 2013, the dollar will be relatively weak dollar, the report stated.

“That and low interest rates, provide continued inexpensive credit for financing trade,” it said, noting that overall world trade growth is expected to be 4 to 5 percent in 2013.

“Higher expected world growth, lower energy prices, and more available credit make the outlook for U.S. agricultural trade promising in 2013,” according to the report. “A modest appreciation of the dollar will have little effect on trade in 2013.”


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