Ag Exports Running Below Last Year, but Still ‘Strong’

It’s been a worrisome trend this year of falling US ag exports and rising imports.

We are expecting these trends to continue for at least the near term.

Which means at least through most of next year, this according to USDA economist Bart Kenner. Now the latest complete trade numbers we have take us through July. And Bart says for the first 10 months of this fiscal year, October through July, exports have totaled 153 and a half billion dollars. That is down 8% from the same timeframe a year ago. Exports of most products are behind last year at this time, but its bulk products like corn taking the biggest hit this time. Bulk product exports are at just over $56 billion.

Down 14% From this time last year.

Kenner told us most bulk commodities have seen sales decline.

Exports of wheat were $5.4 billion down 10% From this time last year. corn exports were $11.7 billion down 33% and cotton exports $5.6 billion down 27%.

One notable exception here is soybeans. They are hanging in there ahead of last year at this time hanging by a thread just 2% with sales at a little over $30 billion. But exports of just about all US ag products are facing trade headwinds as to the reasons for that. I guess we have to do what Claude Rains told his men to do in the movie Casablanca: “Roundup the usual suspects.” So here they are first, bring on the suspects, the strong dollar, that’s making US products more expensive to buy than products from competing countries. Also on that competition score, two more suspects:

Less production in the US and bumper crops elsewhere.

Earlier this year, USDA was forecasting exports this fiscal year would be $181 billion, but just recently they lowered that by 2% to 177.5, 9% below last year. But considering last year was a huge record export year, Kenner says 177.5 is pretty strong.