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U.S. farm exports are in record-setting territory

It’s an open question if U.S. ag exports were as large as forecast in fiscal 2021, but a running tally by the USDA says they were the largest ever. Shipments to foreign buyers totaled $160.2 billion with one month to go in the fiscal year, topping the record of $156.8 billion set in fiscal 2014.

The USDA has forecast exports of $173.5 billion in fiscal 2021, thanks to a recovery in corn and soybean exports, strong demand for beef and pork, and sustained and rising demand for fruits and vegetables. Another major factor was the return of China as the No. 1 customer for ag exports following the de-escalation of the Sino-U.S. trade war. Sales to China were forecast to double in 2021, to a record $35 billion.

To meet the forecast of $173.5 billion in exports, some $13.5 billion in sales would have to be reported for September. Sales have averaged $13.9 billion for the past six months but totaled a smaller $12.6 billion in August. “It could go either way,” USDA economist Bart Kenner told USDA Radio News. The data for September exports will be available in November.

The USDA has forecast that exports will rise to $177.5 billion in fiscal 2022, which opened on Oct. 1.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.

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