Record seen for U.S. agricultural exports

Record seen for U.S. agricultural exports

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's revised forecast of agricultural exports for fiscal year 2004 shows sales of $61.5 billion, an increase of $5.3 billion over the previous year.

This level of sales, if realized, would be the highest ever, eclipsing the old record of $59.8 billion set in fiscal year 1996.

Wheat and corn exports are likely to account for 50 percent of the annual increase in agricultural exports.

U.S. wheat is in high demand and is benefiting from reduced competition due to poor harvests in the European Union, Russia and Ukraine. Corn is experiencing strong sales growth to Egypt, Colombia, Israel and Korea.

Other commodities benefiting from large sales increases this year include cotton. Sales are forecast to rise $1.5 billion over last year to $4.2 billion, on strong prices and high global demand.

The 2004 forecast of livestock and livestock products of $7 billion is $1 billion higher than the February level.

This increase is due to high beef, pork and poultry prices and also the department's efforts to reopen some key beef and poultry markets that were closed following findings of mad cow disease and bird flu. Livestock exports in fiscal year 2003 totaled $9 billion.

Imports, forecast at $51.5 billion for 2004, are $5.8 billion higher than last year resulting in an agricultural trade surplus of $10 billion.