USDA’s latest Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade report released at the end of May indicates that things look good for ag exports this year.

Total exports are expected to top $61.5 billion for fiscal year 2004. That’s the best performance yet, topping 1996’s record by $1.7 billion. And it’s $5.3 billion better than last year.

The forecast for livestock, poultry and dairy exports as a group is estimated at $10.6 billion, up $1 billion from February’s estimation. Dairy exports alone are anticipated to bring in $1.1 billion this year. This estimate was also raised from February’s expectations.

Officials say the growth stems from higher trade volume, and higher unit values for feed grains, rice, cotton, beef and many horticultural products. Other helpful factors include favorable exchange rates, strong global economic growth, reduced competition for wheat, corn and cotton markets, and China’s robust demand for oilseeds and cotton.

However, a smaller (predicted) U.S. soybean crop and BSE-related bans on U.S. beef hamper additional export expansion.

Meanwhile, U.S. ag imports are also expected to hit record levels — $51.5 billion. That’s a gain of $5.8 billion over 2003 levels. Nearly half of this growth comes from increased horticultural product imports.

Still, ag retains a favorable trade surplus status of nearly $10 billion.

To access the complete report, go to:

You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the file.

USDA — Economic Research Service, Michigan Ag Connection