The latest figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture demonstrate that beef exports continue to grow and play an important role in supporting domestic prices. The report, issued Nov. 22, includes beef and pork trade data through September, and notes some revisions from earlier reports.

According to USDA, U.S. beef shipments for the first nine months of 2000 totaled 1,915.4 million pounds carcass weight, or 9.1 percent above a year ago. Exports increased over last year to all our major trading partners, with Canada importing 23.5 percent more beef compared with the same period last year.

Beef imports during this period totaled 2,366 million pounds, 8.4 percent more than last year. Most of the increase, according to the Livestock Marketing Information Center, was due to a 110.5-million-pound increase in beef imports from New Zealand. On a tonnage basis, the United States typically imports more beef than it exports. On a dollar basis, however, our exports generally carry a higher value, with trimmings accounting for a large portion of beef imports.

Pork exports also have increased this year, with USDA reporting a total of 942.4 million pounds through September, an increase of 9.5 percent over the same period last year. Pork shipments to Korea, the Caribbean and some other parts of the world decline during the period, LMIC notes, but the decline was offset by pork exports to Mexico. That country increased its purchases of U.S. pork by 85 percent over the first three quarters of the year.

Pork imports during the period increased significantly during the period, totaling 718.5 million pounds or 20.4 percent more than a year ago according to USDA. Canadian pork imports represented the largest increase, at 23.5 percent ahead of the same period last year.