Farm Progress

The latest USDA forecast downsized fiscal 2018 exports to an estimated $139.0 billion, versus its current fiscal 2017 projection of $139.8 billion.

Ben Potter, Senior editor

August 30, 2017

2 Min Read
Bow view of fully loaded cargo ship.Stewart Sutton/ThinkstockPhotos

Lower U.S. corn and cotton exports could create an overall agricultural export decline in fiscal 2018, according to the latest “Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade” report from USDA’s Economic Research Service and Foreign Agricultural Service.

Corn exports are forecast down $1.6 billion to $8.0 billion because of lower volumes and value. Cotton could stumble $1.3 billion to $4.5 billion as global competition draws a ceiling over U.S. export opportunities and prices. 

Other commodities are predicted to fare better next year, according to the report. Prime examples include livestock, poultry and dairy products – estimated up $600 million mostly due to higher dairy and pork exports. Oilseeds and product exports could increase $500 million to $33 billion total, due to record soybean export volume. And horticultural products will increase an estimated $1 billion, with tree nuts and fresh fruit and vegetables leading the charge.

U.S. agricultural imports are also forecast to decline in 2018. Reductions to livestock, dairy, oilseeds, sugar and tropical products could cut imports by $700 million to a total of $115.5 billion.

That leaves an expected surplus of $23.5 billion for 2018, which is nearly identical to 2017’s projection of $23.6 billion and up from 2016’s total of $16.6 billion.

A weakened dollar in 2017 – sparked by improved economic outlooks for key U.S. trading partners, including Europe and Japan – has given U.S. export competitiveness some added momentum. The U.S. dollar has lost about 7% of its agricultural export-weighted value since the beginning of the year, according to USDA. 

Positive GDP rates across the world could fuel additional demand for agricultural exports. World GDP is expected to climb 2% in 2018. The U.S. GDP is expected to grow 1.6% next year, while Asia (3.7%), Europe (1.7%), Latin America (1.3%) and emerging markets (4.6%) are also projected to see GDP gains.

The leading destinations for U.S. agricultural exports include: 

  • China: $22.6 billion

  • Canada: $21.2 billion

  • Mexico: $18.8 billion

  • European Union: $11.8 billion

  • Japan: $11.1 billion

USDA issues its “Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade” report quarterly. The next report is scheduled for Nov. 30, 2017.

About the Author(s)

Ben Potter

Senior editor, Farm Futures

Senior Editor Ben Potter brings two decades of professional agricultural communications and journalism experience to Farm Futures. He began working in the industry in the highly specific world of southern row crop production. Since that time, he has expanded his knowledge to cover a broad range of topics relevant to agriculture, including agronomy, machinery, technology, business, marketing, politics and weather. He has won several writing awards from the American Agricultural Editors Association, most recently on two features about drones and farmers who operate distilleries as a side business. Ben is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

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