USDA has added $1 billion to its forecast for agricultural exports in FY 2018, now projecting $140 billion in sales and the fourth-largest export year on the books.
The new forecast puts expected sales closer to the $140.5 in FY 2017 and is an increase from the $139 billion projected in August.
The increase is largely due to higher corn volumes and values and strong demand for dried distillers grains with solubles, known by the initials DDGS, the USDA Economic Research Service and Foreign Agricultural Service reported in the latest Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade.
With imports projected to decrease by $2.1 billion, the U.S. agricultural trade surplus is expected to grow 8 percent to $23 billion.
“Much of this expected success can be attributed to robust sales to our East Asian and North American trading partners,” USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a press release.
China is again shaping up to be the top export market for the U.S., led by continued strong soybean sales, while Canada and Mexico remain the second- and third-largest markets, respectively, he said.
“We’re expecting exports to grow in the coming year to all our top three markets,” he said.
Exports to China are expected to grow $600 million year over year to $22.6 billion, exports to Canada are expected to grow $800 million to $21.2 billion, and exports to Mexico are projected at $19.2 billion, up $600 million.
While the export picture is brighter for grains and feed than in August, total sales are expected to drop $1 billion from FY 2017 to $29.4 billion.
Strong, early-season sales and shipments of corn, primarily to Mexico, strengthened USDA’s projection. But corn exports are expected to be down $1.2 billion year over year to $8.5 billion.
Feeds and fodder are forecast up $300 million from FY 2017 to $7.5 billion on expectations of strong demand for DDGS.
The outlook for wheat sales has dampened a bit since August, with values under pressure from abundant global supplies. But large sales to Iraq and the expectation that U.S. wheat will be more competitive later in the year has USDA forecasting a year-over-year increase of $100 million to $6.3 billion.
Record U.S. soybean production is driving record exports, although values are down because of larger global supplies. Those lower prices are expected to spur additional demand for U.S. soybeans, leading to increased sales of $100 million in the coming year to $24.1 billion.
The outlook for livestock, poultry and dairy exports improved, largely due to higher export forecasts for products such as lard and tallow. USDA is projecting $29.7 billion in sales, up almost $1 billion from FY 2017. That includes expected increases of about $100 million in beef and veal and about $300 million in dairy.
Exports of fruits, vegetables and tree nuts are expected to increase about $500 million to $34.5 billion, with a $400 million increase in tree nuts, a $200 million increase in fresh produce and a $100 million decrease in processed fruits and vegetables.
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