Vilsack: Exports to China growing, nearly on par with Canada
By CAROL RYAN DUMAS
USDA is forecasting a record-breaking year for agricultural exports in fiscal 2011.
At $126.5 billion, exports are set to exceed 2008's record level of $114.9 billion and top a strong fiscal 2010 by $17.8 billion.
"This forecast demonstrates the extraordinary demand for food and agriculture around the world, and that it's stronger than ever," USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said during a press conference Dec. 1. "Obviously that trade not only means better incomes for farmers, ranchers and growers, but it also means more job opportunities for Americans."
Every $1 billion in exports translates to 8,000 American jobs, he added.
Sales are surging in Canada, Southeast Asia, North America and the Middle East, he said. Asia accounts for more than half of the expected increase, with China up more than any other market. Exports to China are expected to be up $2.5 billion to $17.5 billion.
"This is an important number because it's only half a billion dollars less than Canada, our ... No.1 trading partner," he said.
The outlook for grain and feed exports is $35.4 billion, up from about $26 billion in 2009, but down from about $38 billion in 2008. Exports for dairy, livestock and poultry are forecast at $23 billion, up from about $18 billion in 2009 and about $22 billion in 2008.
Cotton exports are forecast at a record $8 billion, up from about $3.5 billion in 2009 and almost $5 billion in 2008. Oilseeds and products are forecast at a record $28 billion, up from about $21 billion in 2009 and about $23 billion in 2008.
Exports of horticultural products is forecast at $24.3 billion, up from a little over $20 billion in both 2009 and 2008, but down $200 million from USDA's August forecast.
In addition to increases in all ag export sectors and a forecasted record year, agriculture continues to be one of the only major sector of the U.S. economy with a trade surplus, Vilsack said. With an expected $85.5 billion in imports, the forecasted trade surplus is $41 billion.
"One of the reasons we've seen these increases in exports is the individualized attention to individual countries in our new strategic approach to trade," Vilsack said. "Every dollar of export assistance that we've provided at USDA has generated $35 of trade activity."