The latest U.S. agricultural export forecast from USDA for fiscal year (FY) 2012 ending on Sept. 30 shows the dollar value of exports up $3.5 billion from the February forecast to $134.5 billion, short of last year’s record of $137.4 billion.  All of the increase was accounted for by the three largest importers, Canada, Mexico and China, with a collective increase of $4.0 billion and a 42.8 percent share of U.S. agricultural exports.  Slower than expected economic growth has had little impact on exports so far in FY 2012 and that is not likely to change in FY 2013.

Canada’s increased imports from the U.S. to $20 billion were due to beef, pork, dairy, tree nuts and other consumer-oriented products.  Canada accounts for 25 percent of U.S. consumer-oriented exports.  Mexico’s short corn crop last year has led to increased imports of corn, feed wheat and DDGS, the second largest U.S. market this year.  Increased imports of pork, poultry meat and horticulture products also led to the $19.0 billion forecast.  Corn exports to China of $725 million in the first half of the year compared to less than a $1 million last year helped push the export forecast up $1.5 billion to $18.5 billion.  Whole soybeans and oil shipments were down due to increased competition, but almost all other categories were up, particularly cotton, pork, dairy, poultry and tree nuts.

EU-27 imports from the U.S. were revised down from $10.0 billion to $8.5 billion, compared to last year at $10.2 billion.  Bulk commodities were down 55 percent in value for the first six months of the fiscal year compared to a year earlier, with soybean sales down by two-thirds to $360 million and corn and co-product sales down 85 percent to $37 million.  Demand appears to have declined, but U.S. farmers have also planted corn varieties not yet approved in the E.U.

Estimates of exports of bulk wheat, rice, coarse grains, feeds and fodders and soybeans and products increased by 6.0 million metric tons (MMT) from February to May to 140.7 MMT, down from 156.6 MMT last year.  Wheat exports on a volume basis are up 15.5 percent from the February forecast to 29.1 MMT, still down 15.7 percent from FY 2011 volume of 34.5 MMT, with value up only 6.3 percent to $8.5 billion. USDA expects large shipments in the summer months when competition from other suppliers is less.  Rice export volume was increase 6.1 percent from February to 3.5 MMT in May, while value was increased by 16.7 percent.  Rice shipments have been strong to Northeast Asia and Central and South America.

Corn export volume remained unchanged from February at 43.5 MMT, while the value of shipments declined from $13.0 billion to $12.5 billion due to an expected large 2012 crop forcing prices down and increased competition from Brazilian corn now coming to market.  Feeds and fodders are forecast up 4.1 percent in volume and 4.7 percent in value to $6.7 billion due to larger shipments to China.  Whole soybeans, meal and oil export volumes are up 2.3 percent from February to May, but still well short of the 50.0 MMT movements last year. The continued shrinking of the South American crop has brought more buyers and higher prices, with the value of exports up 5.7 percent to $22.1 billion.  Soybean oil volume and value were unchanged at 0.5 MMT and $0.7 billion dues to the lack of supplies.