According to the latest USDA Economic Research Service and Foreign Agriculture Service Outlook for Agricultural Trade, strong exports are forecast for fiscal year 2014, albeit down from 2013 fiscal projections.
USDA estimates that exports in the next fiscal year will reach $135 billion. That's compared to FY13's projected $140 billion – a new record.
Much of the expected decline in FY14 can be attributed to a $5.4 billion adjustment in oilseeds and products due to lower soybean and meal prices.
Grain and feed exports are expected to fall $1.7 billion due to lower wheat, rice, and feeds and fodders exports. USDA said abundant exportable supplies in competitor countries are expected to limit growth opportunities in FY14.
While 2014 isn't expected to set records, Vilsack says export forecasts show promise
Reduced demand from China is expected to be the driver behind lower cotton exports; they are forecast down $700 million. Little change, however, is expected in exports of livestock, poultry, and dairy products, while horticultural exports are forecast to increase $2.5 billion to a record $34.5 billion.
Canada is expected to return to its position as the top U.S. market for agricultural products as agricultural exports to China are forecast down $2 billion from fiscal 2013.
While USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said the forecast was a "promising development" he reflected on the need for several new policies to keep agricultural exports high.
"Agricultural exports have a real impact on Main Street and beyond, supporting more than one million good jobs here at home," he said. "We're counting on Congress to help keep up this momentum. With just a few weeks left before expiration of many Farm Bill programs – including trade promotion programs that return $35 in economic benefits for every dollar invested – producers and rural communities need passage of a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill as soon as possible."
Vilsack said a new farm bill would allow USDA to continue trade promotion and ag production assistance. He also used the opportunity to call on Congress for immigration reform.
"America's farmers and ranchers need a reliable and stable agricultural workforce to keep up production," he said, noting that passage of an immigration bill would help put the U.S. in a path to continue improving agricultural exports.
For a complete look, download the USDA's Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade.