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USDA sees continued record exports this year
U.S. agricultural exports are expected to rise to a record $142.6 billion in the federal fiscal year that began in October, USDA Chief Economist Joe Glauber told the 2014 Agricultural Forum taking place near Washington, D.C., today and Friday.
The estimate is up by $5.6 billion from November's number and $1.5 billion above the 2013 record levels. The forecast for grain and feed exports is $31.3 billion -- $3.2 billion higher than USDA's fall forecast due to higher volumes of wheat, corn, and feeds and fodders.
Oilseed and product exports are also up by $2.5 billion, to $31.4 billion.
"This is a year when we've seen prices decline. These are increased volumes," Glauber said.
Exports to China are forecast up $3.5 billion to a record $25 billion.
The U.S. isn't without competition in reaching such expanding markets. "We will face severe competition from South America," he said.
He mentioned the EPA's proposed 2014 scaled back mandate for ethanol blending, but Glauber said USDA still expects modest growth in ethanol industry use of corn. "Ethanol use has been fairly flat over the last few years. This has been long anticipated," he said
The industry will still see growth, due in part to ethanol exports.
"I think this will increase longer run. A lot is going to depend on the price of petroleum," he said.
Glauber said USDA expects soybean plantings to be about 3 million acres higher this year, with corn acreage down to 92 million acres.