U.S. agricultural exports surpassed expectations in 2007 generating a record $82 billion for U.S. farm families and the economy in general. According to a recently released USDA forecast, the 2007 record will be broken by $26.5 billion in fiscal year 2008.

Ken Hobbie, U.S. Grains Council president and CEO, said the increased projections in both 2007 and 2008 are direct indicators of the growing demand for U.S. feed grains co-products around the world. The forecast calls for a record 71 million metric tons of feed grain exports, up from 59 million tons a year ago. This translates into a dollar value of $14.7 billion. Of the final estimates, 63 million tons are U.S. corn, up nine million tons from year ago numbers. The report also stated that the increasing global demand for U.S. distiller’s dried grains with solubles played a role in the revised forecast.

Hobbie said U.S. farmers and agribusiness are reaping the rewards of many years of investments through the council’s market development initiatives around the globe. “The benefits of having a strong member-driven organization and planning process are now clearly showing the success that those efforts have brought to U.S. agriculture,” said Hobbie. “By way of sharing information and educating our trade partners, the Council has helped producers establish a reputation for providing high-quality feed grains, as well as co-products such as distiller’s grains.” Many facets contributed to USDA’s most recent forecasts for U.S. feed grains exports, including the weakening U.S. dollar, but hands-on educational and technical market development work was a major factor.

According to Mike Dwyer, chief economist of USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), the efforts of the U.S. Grains Council, a leading cooperator with FAS, certainly pushed the forecasts for U.S. feed grains exports upward. “The international market development programs orchestrated by the U.S. Grains Council undoubtedly strengthen livestock industries overseas, thus increasing the demand for feed grains,” said Dwyer, who added that analysis done by FAS clearly pointed to the export expansion impact of the Council’s programs. “Market development, however, isn’t done overnight and much of the increasing demand for feed grains across the globe is a product of information sharing and hands-on development by the U.S. Grains Council years ago. The impact of their efforts today to develop new markets and expand those already in existence will be seen more visibly in years to come.” According to the USDA, the $108.5 billion in export sales by American farmers and ranchers will net a positive agricultural trade surplus of $30 billion for the United States.

The U.S. Grains Council is a private, non-profit partnership of farmers and agribusinesses committed to building and expanding international markets for U.S. barley, corn, grain sorghum and their products. The Council is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has nine international offices that oversee programs in more than 50 countries. Financial support from our private industry members, including state checkoffs, agribusinesses, state entities and others, triggers federal matching funds from the USDA resulting in a combined program value of more than $26 million.