The USDA's latest Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade report showed that fiscal 2012 agricultural exports are forecast at $131 billion, down $1 billion from the November forecast and $6.4 billion below fiscal 2011. Compared to last year, grain and feed exports are forecast down $3.9 billion with wheat, corn, rice, and feeds all lowered, due to competition especially from the Black Sea region.

Oilseed and product exports are down $4.2 billion, mostly due to strong early-season shipments from South America. Cotton exports are forecast down $2.7 billion due to lower U.S. supplies and falling prices. Record horticultural exports are forecast at $28 billion, $2.1 billion above 2011.

The forecast for livestock, poultry and dairy is up $1.9 billion. The fiscal 2012 import projection is raised to $106.5 billion. This represents a 13-percent increase from 2011. The estimated gains for the various import sectors are: sugar and tropical products—$5.5 billion more than in 2011; horticulture products—$3.9 billion higher; oilseeds and products—up $600 million; livestock and dairy products—up $1.2 billion; and grains and feeds—up $950 million.

Given that the forecast for exports is down while imports are rising, the trade balance for 2012 is a surplus of $24.5 billion, down from the $43 billion for 2011.

FY 2012 ag exports fall to $131 billion