USDA’s recent forecast for U.S. agricultural exports for fiscal year (FY) 2013 is a record $145.0 billion, $9.2 billion above FY 2012 exports.  Imports are also forecasted at a record large $115.0 billion in FY 2013, up from FY 2012’s imports of $103.4 billion.  The trade surplus would be $30.0 billion, down from $32.4 billion in FY 2012.

While the total export estimate shows an increase, wide differences are occurring in the details by commodity class.  Horticultural products have the largest growth and account for $3.4 billion of the $9.2 billion increase.  Horticultural product exports were $20.8 billion in FY 2008 and $20.6 billion in FY 2009 and grew rapidly to $28.6 billion in FY 2012 and are expected to be $32.0 billion in FY 2013.

Wheat exports account for another $3.2 billion of the increase in exports going from $8.4 billion in FY 2012 to $11.6 billion in FY 2013, but short of the FY 2008 high of $12.3 billion.  Oil seeds and products account for $2.8 billion of the increase, with soybeans increasing by $2.6 billion, both to record highs, respectively, at $31.4 billion and $22.5 billion.  Sugar and tropical products exports are expected to be up $1.1 billion to $7.3 billion, also a record high.  Rice exports in FY 2013 are up $0.1 billion to $2.1 billion.

Coarse grains exports are expected to be down $0.1 billion dollars in FY 2013 to $11.6 billion, with corn down $0.5 billion to $10.7 billion. Both are well off their FY 2008 highs of $15.8 billion and $14.0 billion, respectively.  Livestock, poultry and dairy were steady at $29.8 billion in both years, a record high.

President Obama set a goal in 2010 of doubling all U.S. exports by 2015 using 2009 as a base year.  Agricultural exports were $96.3 billion in FY 2009.  By that comparison, U.S. agricultural exports in FY 2013 will be up by $48.7 billion, 50.6 percent over the four year or an average growth rate of 12.7 percent per year.  But U.S. exports were down in value and volume in FY 2009 due to the worldwide economic recession.  Exports were $114.9 billion in FY 2008, a record year at that time, and recovered in FY 2010 to $108.6 billion before setting the current record in FY 2011 at $137.4 billion.  Compared to exports of $114.9 billion in FY 2008, exports in FY 2013 will up $30.1 billion in value, a 26.2 per cent increase, an average growth rate of 5.2 percent per year.