The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s quarterly agricultural trade forecast projects fiscal year 2021 U.S. farm exports at $164 billion — the highest total on record.
The projections represents an increase of $28 billion, or 21 percent, from last fiscal year’s total, and a $7-billion increase from USDA’s previous FY 2021 forecast published in February. The previous annual export record of $152.3 billion was set in FY 2014.
“U.S. agricultural trade has proven extraordinarily resilient in the face of a global pandemic and economic contraction. This strength is reflected in today’s USDA export forecast,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “As we conclude World Trade Month, it’s clear that trade remains a critical engine powering the agricultural economy and the U.S. economy as a whole. Today’s estimate shows that our agricultural trading partners are responding to a return to certainty and reliability from the United States.
Vilsack continued, “Yesterday’s action regarding the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement also made it clear that our trading partners must play by the rules. Ensuring that all U.S. producers and exporters have access to global markets is a key to building back better and ensuring the continued strength and resiliency of rural America.”
Key drivers of the surge in exports include a record outlook for China, record export volumes and values for a number of key products, sharply higher commodity prices, and reduced foreign competition.
China is poised to be back on top as the United States’ number one customer, with U.S. exports forecast at $35 billion, eclipsing the previous record of $29.6 billion set in FY 2014. This growth is led by Chinese demand for soybeans and corn. Other top markets, in order, are Canada, Mexico, Japan, the European Union, and South Korea, with demand remaining strong across the board.
USDA projects that total exports of bulk commodities and meat will reach record levels for both volume and value in FY 2021. On the bulk commodity side, this is true for both corn and soybeans exports, with sorghum export value also at a record. On the meat side, beef and pork export values and volumes are projected at an all-time high, as is broiler meat volume.
The full USDA export forecast is available here.