The recent downturn in global sales of some U.S. dairy products is reflected in USDA’s latest quarterly Ag Trade Outlook report, released Dec. 2.
Fiscal year 2015 (FY ’15, October 2014 through September 2015) dairy exports are now expected to hit $6.7 billion, down $300 million from the August forecast, and down about $700 million from the FY ’14 total of $7.4 billion.
If realized, it would still be the third straight year dairy product exports topped $6 billion. U.S. dairy exports were valued at $6.13 billion in FY ’13.
Meanwhile, the FY ’15 U.S. dairy import forecast was left unchanged from August projections, at $3.2 billion. However, the forecast for FY ’15 cheese imports was raised slightly, to $1.3 billion.
FY ’14 dairy imports totaled just under $3.3 billion, with cheese imports estimated at $1.2 billion. FY ’13 dairy product imports were estimated at $3.0 billion, with cheese at $1.1 billion.
Looking at agriculture in general, FY ’15 exports are now forecast at $143.5 billion, $9.0 billion below FY ’14 and down $1.0 billion from the August forecast for fiscal 2015. Most of the decline from August is a result of lower prices for bulk commodities.
Grain and feed exports are forecast down $1.2 billion, mostly due to declines for corn, wheat and certain feed products. Oilseed exports are unchanged from August as lower prices for soybeans and soybean meal offset a higher expected volumes.
In the livestock sector, higher beef exports will offset declines in dairy. The forecast for livestock, poultry and dairy is raised $800 million, to $33.7 billion, on higher meat prices, especially for beef, as well as larger volumes for pork and broiler meat.
U.S. agricultural imports are forecast at a record $116.0 billion, down $1.0 billion from August, but $6.8 billion higher than in FY ’14.
The U.S. agricultural trade surplus is forecast at $27.5 billion, down from $43.3 billion in fiscal 2014, and the smallest surplus since fiscal 2009.
Favorable exchange rates, low U.S. energy costs, expanding international trade, and improved world growth are all supporting U.S. agricultural trade in 2015, according to USDA.
World economic growth is expected to accelerate, from 2.6% in 2014 to 3.0% in 2015, driven by faster growth in North America and continued strong but slowing growth in developing Asia.
The U.S. Dollar appreciated 1.6% in 2014, and is expected to appreciate 2.0% in 2015, but will remain low relative to its peak in early 2009.
The events leading to the recent drop in crude oil prices lead most analysts to expect lower energy prices in 2015. In addition, U.S. prices for crude oil and natural gas are expected to remain below world levels in 2015, due to bottlenecks in the U.S. energy refining and transport system. The U.S. energy situation is expected to provide U.S. oil refiners, farmers, manufacturers, fertilizer producers, and farm product exporters a lower cost environment in 2015. As a result of improved world growth and broadly lower energy and commodity prices, the growth of world trade volume is expected to accelerate to 5.0% in 2015, compared with 3.4% in 2014.