Meat exports, beef, pork, beef and pork variety meats and broiler meat, declined from 6.9 MMT to 6.7 MMT, due to slight weakness in variety meats and broiler meat.  The value of meat export was increased 1.9 percent to $15.8 billion, with slight increases for pork, variety meats and broiler meat.  The value of dairy product exports was increased 6.8 percent to $4.7 billion, and up from $4.5 billion last year.

Horticultural products continue to set records with a forecast at $28.5 billion in May, up from $28.0 billion in February.  Tree nuts account for the entire $0.5 billion increase to $6.2 billion.  Exports of fresh fruits and vegetables were unchanged at $6.9 billion and processed at $6.7 billion.  Sugar and tropical product exports were unchanged at $6.2 billion, and cotton value was up $0.2 billion to $6.4 billion.

USDA has not projected exports for FY 2013 beginning October 1 as part of this quarterly release, but export estimates from the World Agricultural Outlook Board (WAOB) by crop marketing year and livestock by calendar year provide some indications of U.S. exports for the next fiscal year.  Bulk commodity exports are somewhat cyclical, with volume and value peaking in FY 2011 as agricultural markets were impact by the drought shortened crops in the Black Sea region in the summer of 2010.  The WAOB estimates for the 2012/13 crop marketing years show increased volume of exports for all of the main grains, except rice.  Soybean exports will be up, with soybean oil up slightly and soybean meal down.  Cotton export volume will likely increase, but market prices will be lower.

U.S. market prices next year are expected to be lower for wheat, corn and sorghum, but up for rice and soybeans and nearly unchanged for soybean products.  Volume of grains exported should be up, while value could be down.  This will be particularly true for corn where the U.S. share of world trade has slipped to under 50 percent and would be even lower if feed wheat was included in the calculation.  With larger available supplies and lower prices, the U.S. will compete head-to-head with Brazil and Ukraine to regain corn markets.

Exports of meat and dairy products do not have the volatility of bulk commodities.   The WAOB’s estimates for U.S. livestock and poultry production for 2013 show meat exports mostly unchanged with pork up slightly.  Domestic beef prices are expected to be stronger, broilers prices unchanged and pork prices a little lower.  Dairy product exports are expected to be up slightly in volume with higher domestic prices.  Horticultural products have generally trended up in recent years and will likely do so again in FY 2013.

Unless significant additional weather problems develop in a major producing area of the world, the U.S. is not likely to surpass the peak export volume in bulk commodities of 156.6 MMT reached in FY 2011.  Other export products should at least hold steady in volume and likely improve a little in value unless the world economy slows further.

Ross Korves is an Economic Policy Analyst with Truth About Trade and Technology