Trade report estimated U.S. agricultural exports for FY 2010 at $108.7 billion, up $12.4 billion from $96.3 billion in 2009 and forecast a record $126.5 billion After export weakness in 2009, USDA-ERS November 30, 2010, Outlook for U.S. Agricultural for FY 2011, up $13.5 billion from the August forecast and $17.8 billion above exports in 2010.

If realized, exports in FY 2011 will exceed the 2008 record by more than $11.5 billion and provide an estimated record high ag trade surplus of about $41.0 billion. Agriculture continues to be one of the only major U.S. production sectors with a trade surplus.

Sharply higher prices for leading export commodities account for most of the forecast increase in value. Prices for most commodities are up as U.S. and global stocks tighten. Commodity prices surged in late summer as concern that global demand, especially from China, might exceed supplies. A severe drought, record high temperatures and extended wildfires in Russia and other near-by countries caused a severe shortage of wheat.

While the estimated volume of exports forecast for FY 2011 is up 4.1 percent from the August 2010 estimate, the estimated value is up 12.0 percent. But, even at these higher unit values, the increase in exports indicates strong demand for U.S. food and agriculture products.

Increased exports are particularly important as the U.S. economy slowly recovers from the recession. Exports create jobs, especially in rural America. Agriculture Secretary Vilsack indicated in a November 30, 2010 statement that "each $1 billion in exports supports 8,000 jobs, meaning that agricultural exports alone in fiscal 2011 are expected to support more than 1 million U.S. jobs."

Asia is key

Exports to Asia accounted for about 42 percent of total exports in 2010 and account for more than half of the increased export trade forecast for 2011, with China up more than any other market ($2.5 billion) to $17.5 billion and only half a billion less than the top market of Canada.

 While tight global supplies have influenced increased exports of U.S. agricultural products, even at higher unit values, it appears that the depreciated value of the U.S. dollar has also had a big influence.

In 2009, U.S. export trade slowed significantly as a result of the global recession and the appreciated value of the U.S. dollar. Now, a weaker U.S. dollar, especially since spring 2010, is encouraging exports. While a weakening U.S. dollar aggravates the U.S. deficit/debt since more lower valued dollars are required to purchase imports, a cheaper U.S. dollar makes U.S. export commodities, such as corn, cotton, beef, etc., cheaper to overseas buyers, even at current increased prices. Increased exports will help boost the economic recovery which is underway. World demand for U.S. commodities remains strong.