Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made the following statement regarding USDA's third-quarter forecast released today showing U.S. farm exports reaching the second-highest level on record at $134.5 billion in fiscal year 2012:
"With the release of today's most recent export forecast, we can expect American agriculture to remain a bright spot in our nation's economy in the months to come, supporting more than 1 million American jobs in communities across our country. Since 2009, our farmers and ranchers are set to deliver three of the four highest levels of U.S. agricultural exports in our nation's history. In fiscal year 2012, the latest forecast sees $134.5 billion in U.S. farm exports, the second highest level ever and $3.5 billion greater than the previous forecast. The reason for this success is the productivity of our farmers and ranchers, as much as President Obama's leadership on trade.
Since 2009, USDA has aggressively worked to expand export opportunities and reduce barriers to trade, helping to push agricultural exports to historic levels year after year. Last year, the President insisted that we get the agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama done right, forging better deals for America's workers and businesses that led to strong bipartisan support in both houses of Congress. Today, the agreements with South Korea and Colombia are in effect, delivering greater returns for U.S. businesses. In 2010, the President committed to double U.S. exports in five years and, two years later, we are on pace to meet that goal.
In the latest forecast, the overall pace of exports is surging, led by a 5.1-million-tons increase in the volume of bulk exports over the February forecast. Consumer-oriented products in particular are soaring through the first six months of the fiscal year, up 15 percent over the first 6 months of 2011. While wheat and soybeans are expected to perform well, it is American-grown high-value products that are performing the best, with the forecast increasing again for horticultural products (particularly tree nuts) and livestock products. Moreover, exports to Canada and Mexico are both forecast up this quarter to new records, respectively, while exports to China are up $1.5 billion due to demand for cotton, pork, dairy, poultry, and tree nuts.
"These figures indicate how demand for the American brand of agriculture continues to soar worldwide, supporting good jobs for Americans across a variety of industries such as transportation, renewable energy, manufacturing, food services, and on-farm employment. And as American agriculture continues to achieve a nearly unparalleled level of productivity, this success story will continue, helping to strengthen an American economy that's built to last."
The latest export forecast data is available at www.fas.usda.gov under the Quarterly Agricultural Export Forecast link.