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U.S. Agricultural Exports at Record Level in First Four Months of 2021

Late last week, the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) released a report titled, “Early Months Suggest a Bright 2021 for United States Agricultural Exports.”

The FAS report stated that, “U.S. agricultural exports in the first four months (January – April) of 2021 were a record $59 billion, exceeding the previous record set in 2014 by nearly $5 billion.

Robust global demand, high commodity prices, and increased U.S. competitiveness have led to record exports of corn, sorghum, beef, food preparations, and other products.

“Others including soybeans, soybean meal, wheat, and dairy have also seen large increases during recent years and have contributed significantly to early-year export levels. At the current pace, there is a strong possibility of a record-breaking year for U.S. agricultural exports surpassing the 2014 mark of $154.5 billion.”

“Early Months Suggest a Bright 2021 for United States Agricultural Exports.” International Agricultural Trade Report. USDA- Foreign Agricultural Service (June 25, 2021).

“Coming out of a strong year in 2020, the United States appears to be well-positioned for an even stronger 2021,” FAS said.

The report explained that, “In the first four months of 2021, exports of top products have met, exceeded, or in some cases greatly exceeded exports from the same period in 2020, contributing to an overall increase of more than $12 billion.”

FAS added that, “Many upward trends from 2020 have continued into the new year. Global demand is rising, driven in part due to record purchases by China as it rebuilds its swine herd from African Swine Fever and demand for animal feed surges. The early 2020 signing of the Phase One agreement between the United States and China created a pathway for U.S. producers to step in and fill both the demand for pork, beef, and poultry products as well as the rising demand for animal feed. Production shortfalls reduced competition from feed exporters in South America, which also had an important effect on trade in the early months of 2021. The combination of increased global demand and reduced supply has led to price increases in the past year that look to benefit U.S. exporters.”

With respect to export destinations, FAS indicated that, “Another notable achievement is that not only are year-to-date exports up across product groups, they are also up across nearly all major U.S. partners. For each of the top 10 markets for U.S. products in 2020 (China, Canada, Mexico, Japan, the European Union, South Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Colombia), total exports are higher in January – April 2021 compared to the same period in 2020.”

Recall that in May, in its quarterly Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade, USDA forecasted record farm exports in FY 2021.

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Keith Good

Keith Good is the social media manager for the farmdoc project at the University of Illinois. He has previously worked for the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, and compiled the daily FarmPolicy.com News Summary from 2003-2015. He is a graduate of Purdue University (M.S.- Agricultural Economics), and Southern Illinois University School of Law.

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