While the United States is on its way to setting a record for agricultural exports in fiscal year 2014 which ends September 30, the latest data from USDA forecasts exports to drop in the coming year.
USDA recently upped its projections for FY 2014 to a record $152.5 billion and reduced forecasts for imports by $1 billion to $109.5 billion. If realized at the end of this month, that would leave the U.S. agricultural industry with a $43 billion trade surplus, a level only reached once before in 2011.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack recently attributed that growth to a variety of reasons.
“We’re continuing to see growth in agricultural exports and again another record year for fiscal year 2014 at $152.5 billion in American agricultural exports overseas – leaves us not only with an export record but also an ag trade surplus record of $43 billion,” Vilsack said. “And when you look at it – it makes sense. We have a quality product in America. We have an affordable price for the products we sell to the rest of the world. We have a reliable supply of those products.”
The latest U.S. agricultural trade outlook, however, forecasts a drop in agricultural exports in fiscal year 2015. USDA is projecting ag exports to reach $144.5 billion, down $8 billion from FY 2014.
According to the agency, exports of oilseeds and products are forecast down $5.1 billion as a result of lower than expected soybean and meal prices. Further, grain and feed exports are forecast to be down $4.9 billion due to lower export volumes and value of corn and wheat.
Livestock, poultry and dairy product exports are also projected to decline in FY 2015. USDA projects a $500 million decrease to $32.9 billion. Exports of pork, poultry and dairy are expected to decrease.
Not all livestock sectors are expected to decline though. USDA says beef exports are forecast to increase $200 million and set a new record at $6.2 billion, with higher prices offsetting lower volumes.
Despite a projected $3 billion decrease from FY 2014, China is expected to remain the top destination for U.S. agricultural products. Additionally, exports to Russia are expected to fall $800 million, to a total of $400 million, in FY 2015 as a result of trade restrictions Russia has placed on U.S. agricultural products.
On the other side of the trade equation, USDA is projecting agricultural imports to increase 7 percent to $117 billion, leaving the trade balance at $27.5 billion. If realized, this would be $15.5 billion lower than FY 2014 and the smallest trade surplus since 2009.
Tight supplies and lower cow slaughter figures led USDA to forecast beef imports to continue to strengthen. The agency says “strong demand for imported processing-grade beef is driving bigger shipments from Australia, Canada and Nicaragua.”