Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack issued the following statement on the first forecast for U.S. agricultural exports for fiscal year 2017 and a revised forecast for fiscal year 2016.
Both forecasts indicate U.S. agricultural exports have begun to rally and will continue the record-setting pace that began in 2009.
“These numbers once again demonstrate the resiliency and reliability of U.S. farmers and ranchers in the face of continued challenges. The projected $133 billion in total exports for FY 2017 is up $6 billion from last forecast and would be the sixth-highest total on record," Vilsack said. "The United States’ agricultural trade surplus is also projected to rise to $19.5 billion, up 40 percent from $13.9 billion in FY 2016."
Vilsack noted that the U.S. has continued to post an agricultural trade surplus since record keeping began in the 1960s.
The projected growth in exports in 2017 is led by increases in overseas sales of U.S. oilseeds and products, horticultural goods, cotton, livestock, dairy and poultry - and with a rise in global economic growth, global beef demand is expected to strengthen, he pointed out.
"While USDA continues working to eliminate the remaining restrictions on U.S. beef exports that were instituted by some trading partners as a result of the December 2003 BSE detection, U.S. beef exports have recovered," Vilsack said. "U.S. beef exports are expected to reach $5.3 billion in 2017, well above the $1.5 billion exported in FY 2004."
Vilsack attributed this progress to USDA’s work under the Obama Administration to eliminate BSE-related restrictions in countries around the world, including 16 countries since January 2015.
“China is projected to return as the United States’ top export market in 2017, surpassing Canada as the number one destination for U.S. agricultural goods," he said.
The USDA also revised the forecast for FY 2016 exports to $127 billion, up $2.5 billion from the previous forecast.
"This would bring total agricultural exports since 2009 to more than $1 trillion, smashing all previous eight-year totals," Vilsack stated.
The Ag Secretary said exports are responsible for 20 percent of U.S. farm income, also driving rural economic activity and supporting more than one million American jobs on and off the farm.
"The United States has the opportunity to expand those benefits even further through passage of new trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership," Vilsack said. "Such agreements are key to a stable and prosperous farm economy, helping boost global demand for U.S. farm and food products, increasing U.S. market share versus our competitors, and ensuring that our farmers and ranchers have stable and predictable markets for the quality goods they produce.”