The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is expecting to hit a record for agricultural exports for the fiscal year 2021. According to the quarterly ag trade forecast, U.S. ag exports are projected to reach $164 billion. The figure represents an increase of 21 percent from the year prior and an increase of $7 billion over USDA’s previous forecast that was published back in February. The last record for agricultural exports was set back in 2014 with a total of $152.3 billion.
“U.S. agricultural trade has proven extraordinarily resilient in the face of a global pandemic and economic contraction. This strength is reflected in today’s USDA export forecast,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a press release. “As we conclude World Trade Month, it’s clear that trade remains a critical engine powering the agricultural economy and the U.S. economy as a whole. Today’s estimate shows that our agricultural trading partners are responding to a return to certainty and reliability from the United States.”
The increase in overall agricultural exports is reported to be led by increases in livestock, poultry, and dairy products, we well as corn and soybeans. Livestock, poultry, and dairy products are projected to increase $1.6 billion over the February projection, to $34.2 billion. Dairy exports alone are expected to climb to $7 billion based on higher volumes and values of several products. Cotton exports are also projected to increase, while expectations for horticultural exports have declined from previous levels.
Some of the factors behind the increased export forecast include a record outlook for China, as well as higher overall commodity prices. Exports to China are expected to reach a record of $35 billion. The increase is led by larger shipments of soybeans, corn, tree nuts, poultry products, beef, and wheat. A decline in foreign competition, as well as record export volumes and values for several important products, are also driving the increase in ag exports.