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USDA: 2008 ag export sales higher than earlier expected

Agriculture.com Staff 05/30/2008 @ 9:48am

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday bumped its quarterly ag export forecast by $7.5 billion. For the fiscal year, that means a $26.5 billion increase in anticipated ag exports over previous estimates.

Total ag exports for 2008, according to USDA, are now expected to reach $108.5 billion, two thirds of which coming from "grains and animal products." The new export figures now indicate a $30 billion positive ag trade surplus when taking ag imports into account, according to USDA.

"U.S. producers are on track to export a record 63 million tons of corn, and set new export volume and value records for pork," Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer said on Friday. "Export volumes and values are also up for many horticultural products with sales growth to Canada and the European Union being exceptionally strong."

The prior market Schafer mentioned Friday continues to top the list of nations importing U.S. ag products. According to USDA data, Canada and Mexico will import $30.5 billion in U.S. products in 2008, up $5 from last year. In addition, the Asian market is expected to expand by $3.4 billion to $10.5 billion for U.S. products.

The growth in the amount spent on U.S. ag goods by its leading buyers -- Canada and Mexico -- is due in large part, Schafer added, to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The Secretary went on to criticize lawmakers for a lack of action in other trade agreements abroad that could possibly yield similar contributions to the nation's ag trade surplus.

"Canada and Mexico, our two North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners, currently buy 28% of the value of America's agricultural exports -- up from 20% purchased 15 years ago when trade began under NAFTA," Schafer said. "Unfortunately, Congress has not been acting in the best interest of the American farmer and rancher by stalling approval of the signed trade agreement with Colombia, yet along with approving trade with Korea and Panama, Congress could provide three extremely important markets for expanding the trend of increased American export sales for years to come."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday bumped its quarterly ag export forecast by $7.5 billion. For the fiscal year, that means a $26.5 billion increase in anticipated ag exports over previous estimates.

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