A new report released by the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress puts ag exports in the spotlight.

Congress [hearts] ag exportsThe report, titled “The Economic Contribution of America’s Farmers and the Importance of Agricultural Exports,” report shows that the U.S. is the world’s top exporter of agricultural products.

In a news release from the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), the U.S. exported a record $141.3 billion in agricultural products in 2012, a $38.5 billion trade surplus for the year for the agriculture sector.

“This report reinforces the importance of exports for the American agricultural sector,” said Philip Seng, president and CEO of the USMEF. “It also documents two areas that are critical for the success of agricultural exports: the enactment of a long-term farm bill to provide support for agricultural exports and provisions that reduce barriers to those exports. Both are equally important for an area of the economy that produces a much-needed budget surplus and supports an estimated one million jobs across the country.”

Meatingplace adds that while agriculture accounted for less than 5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product from 2007 through 2011, ag products as a share of total exports hovered around 10 percent.  Read more here.

“Exports are critical to the success of U.S. agriculture, and population and income growth in developing countries ensures that this will continue to be the case in the decades to come,” the report states. “Taking action to facilitate exports would help to strengthen the agricultural sector and promote overall economic growth.”

However, the report detailed trade barriers facing agricultural exporters.

“Despite some progress, average agricultural tariffs remain substantially higher than those imposed on other products,” the report noted. “Moreover, unpredictable and unscientific applications of sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures can create a significant burden for exporters, in particular for producers and processors of meat products.”

The report recommends several actions Congress can take to facilitate export opportunities for U.S. producers. This includes:

  • Enacting a long-term farm bill to provide certainty for U.S. agriculture
  • Pushing for provisions that reduce barriers to agricultural exports
  • Promoting export opportunities for small and beginning farmers, ranchers and processors

Read the full report here.

Last year, the U.S. shipped more than 13 percent of its annual milk solids overseas, a continued sign that U.S. dairy suppliers are building a more major role in meeting the need of a burgeoning global dairy demand.

“U.S. dairy exports are now a $5 billion business,” says Tom Suber, president U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC). “Export value hit a record $5.21 billion in 2012 and the nation’s dairy suppliers sent 3.295 billion lbs. of total milk solids into export channels last year.” USDEC, primarily funded by the dairy checkoff, leads overseas market development on behalf of the U.S. dairy industry.”

See, “Dairy exports set record in 2012.”

U.S. beef and pork exports also set new value records in 2012, topping highs set in 2011. The USMEF reported in February that pork exports set both volume and value records last year, reaching 2.26 million metric tons – up a fraction from the record set in 2011 – valued at $6.3 billion, a 3.5 percent increase over the prior year’s record.  

The value of beef exports for the year rose 2 percent to a record-high $5.51 billion on 12 percent lower volumes (1.3 million metric tons).

“The export markets are a critical profit center for the industry at a time when the industry is challenged by high input costs and, on the beef side, a historically low herd size,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “2012 saw record highs for per-head export values for both pork and beef at a time when those returns were sorely needed by producers.”

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