U.S. ag exports soar to third-highest level on record

by Eric Schroeder
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WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — U.S. agricultural exports in fiscal year 2017 reached $140.5 billion, up 8% from fiscal 2016 and the third-highest level on record, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The U.S. agricultural sector also recorded an annual trade surplus of $21.3 billion, up nearly 30% from $16.6 billion a year ago.

“U.S. agriculture depends on trade,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture George “Sonny” Perdue. “It is great to see an increase in exports and we hope to open additional markets to build on this success. I’m a grow-it-and-sell-it kind of guy. If American agricultural producers keep growing it, USDA will keep helping to sell it around the world.”

According to the USDA, China finished the fiscal year as the United States’ largest export customer, with shipments valued at $22 billion, followed by Canada at $20.4 billion. U.S. agricultural exports to Mexico reached $18.6 billion, up 6% from last year, while exports to Japan increased 12%, to $11.8 billion. Rounding out the top 10 markets were the European Union ($11.6 billion), South Korea ($6.9 billion), Hong Kong ($4 billion), Taiwan ($3.4 billion), Indonesia ($3 billion) and the Philippines ($2.6 billion).

The USDA said U.S. bulk commodity exports set a volume record at 159 million tonnes, up 11% from fiscal 2016, while their value rose 16% to $51.4 billion. Leading the way in exports was soybeans, which reached a record 60 million tonnes, valued at $24 billion. Exports of corn, wheat and cotton all grew as well, the USDA said, with the value of wheat exports up 21%, to $6.2 billion, and corn exports up 6%, to $9.7 billion.

Exports account for 20% of U.S. farm income, the USDA said. 

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