Data just released shows that U.S. farm exports reached an all-time high of $75 billion during the first half of fiscal year 2011. That's 27% higher than the same period last year. USDA has forecast exports to reach $135.5 billion by the end of the year. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says this data demonstrates that once again, America's farmers and ranchers are helping lead the way to recovery from the worst economic recession in decades.
"The gains in U.S. agricultural exports are particularly encouraging news for those who live in rural America or earn a living in farming, ranching and agriculture-related industries, because exports are creating jobs here at home," Vilsack said. "Farm exports alone will support more than one million jobs in America this year. Strong U.S. farm exports will be a key contributor to building an economy that continues to grow, innovate and out-compete the rest of the world."
Both the value and volume of exports rose in the first half of the year, with the volume of bulk shipments up 5% from last year. Wheat and cotton volumes were especially robust, with increases of 64% 44%, respectively. March was the highest-grossing month for U.S. agricultural exports ever. During that month alone, U.S. farmers and ranchers exported $13.3 billion worth of U.S. agricultural goods. That's $407 million more than the previous record set in November 2010.
China, the U.S.'s top export market, accounted for $15.1 billion, or 20% in farm exports. Still, Vilsack says Congress can help U.S. farmers and ranchers sustain their record growth by moving expeditiously to pass the South Korea, Colombia and Panama trade agreements. When fully implemented, those three agreements have potential to add more than $2 billion per year to our exports and support job creation here at home.