Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made the following statement today after USDA released its final tally for agricultural exports in fiscal year 2011:
"Thanks to the productivity of America's farmers, ranchers and producers, the American brand of agriculture is surging in popularity worldwide. Farm exports in fiscal year 2011 reached a record high of $137.4 billion--exceeding past highs by $22.5 billion--and supported 1.15 million jobs here at home. Furthermore, agriculture continues to bolster our nation's economy by contributing a trade surplus year after year. This year, that surplus hit a record $42.7 billion. And next year looks equally strong for the U.S. agricultural economy, thanks in part to President Obama signing new trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, which will add an additional $2.3 billion to our export total and support nearly 20,000 American jobs.
"U.S. agriculture continues to be a bright spot in America's economy and a driving force behind export growth, job creation, and our nation's competitiveness, underscored by the increasing demand for U.S. food and agriculture around the world. For the first full fiscal year, China was the lead export market for farm products, buying almost $20 billion of goods such as soybeans, cotton, tree nuts and hides. There is no doubt that the Asia Pacific region recognizes the United States as a reliable supplier of the highest-quality food and agricultural products, and that's the message I will take to our trading partners when I travel next week to Vietnam and China to help expand markets and remove barriers to trade for U.S. farm products. Partnerships with growing markets like those in Vietnam and China are integral to the strength of the U.S. economy in the decades ahead.
"Strong export performance means higher incomes for farmers and ranchers, more opportunities for small businesses owners, and jobs for folks who package, ship, and market agricultural products. So, thank you to all of America's farmers, ranchers and producers who continue to make U.S. agriculture a bright spot in our nation's economy."