Lower U.S. energy prices, a depreciating dollar and more available credit are positive factors for the U.S. agricultural trade outlook in FY 2014, but U.S. ag exports are forecast to slip by $5 billion from FY 2013’s record $140 billion.
The FY 2014 export forecast, at $135 billion, is also lower than 2012 exports at $135.8 billion and 2011 exports at $137.4 billion according to USDA’s trade outlook released Aug. 29.
Much of the forecasted decline is driven by lower commodity crop prices in response to recovering supplies following last year’s widespread drought. Livestock, poultry and dairy exports are forecast to rise slightly, with growth in pork and poultry products offsetting declines in dairy and beef.
Total feed and grain exports are forecast at $28.8 billion, down $1.7 billion, driven by sharply lower prices, according to the report. Livestock, poultry and dairy exports are forecast at $31.1 billion, up $100 million from the previous year.
Exports for horticultural products, however, are forecast at a record high of $34.5 billion, up $2.5 billion over FY 2013. Fresh fruits and vegetables are expected to be up $500 million on continued expansion to Canada and Mexico Processed fruits and vegetable are expected to rise $600 million, with prices continuing to rise with demand. Whole and processed tree nuts are forecast to be up $800 million, primarily due to continued strong demand from China and Europe for almonds, pistachios and walnuts.
While total U.S. ag exports are forecast down, ag imports are forecast at a record $113 billion, up $8 billion from FY 2013. Increases in import value are expected on most products, with the largest gains in fruits, vegetable and nuts.
Between softening exports and strengthening imports, the U.S. ag trade surplus is expected to fall by $13 billion in FY 2014 to $22 billion, the smallest surplus since 2007.
U.S. wheat exports are expected to drop $1.9 million due to lower prices and volumes and limited growth due to abundant exportable supplies in competitor countries. Feeds and fodders are expected down $1.4 billion because the value on dried distiller’s grains is expected to drop sharply with corn prices.
Coarse grain exports are expected to increase $2.3 billion , mostly on higher corn volumes as supplies are replenished following last year’s drought.
Exports of oilseeds and products are expected to be down $5.4 billion driven by lower soybean and meal prices in response to improved domestic supply. Soybean meal exports will also be affected by increased use in the domestic pork and poultry industries, and soybean oil exports are forecasted to fall due to increased competition from South America and expanded use for U.S. biodiesel.
In the animal sector, exports of pork are forecast $600 million higher, with strong demand expected from Mexico and some Asian markets. Poultry is forecast to increase $50 million on greater demand for eggs and other poultry products.
Dairy is expected to decline $200 million after increasing $500 million in FY 2013 as volumes and global prices moderate. Beef exports are forecast to decline $170 million as lower volumes offset higher prices.