U.S. farm exports will be the smallest in four years due to lower prices for wheat, corn, and cotton, said the Agriculture Department on Thursday. China would remain the No. 1 customer for food and ag products, with Mexico a close second.
The United States ran a record agricultural trade deficit of $16.6 billion in the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30, said a USDA database. The deficit was smaller than the forecast of $19 billion but fiscal 2023 was the third deficit in the last five years.
Agricultural imports from Latin America and the Caribbean grew at a compound annual growth rate of 6.9 percent in the 12 years following the Great Recession, much faster than the global rate of 5.6 percent, says the USDA in a new report: "Primarily, this import growth was a story about Mexico."
After setting a record last year, U.S. farm exports will shrink 8 percent this year, due to tightening economic conditions worldwide and lower commodity prices, said the Agriculture Department on Wednesday. The $15.4 billion decline in sales would be most pronounced for corn, cotton, beef, and soybeans.
A global economic slowdown will combine with inflation, higher interest rates, and the strong dollar to erode U.S. food and agriculture exports by 12 percent through fiscal 2026, projected the USDA on Wednesday.
Boosted by large increases in most sales categories, U.S. farm exports mushroomed to a record $196.4 billion in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, according to newly released Commerce Department data.
The Biden administration will address Mexico's trade practices although it will not open a formal investigation into unfair government support of the produce industry, said the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association on Sunday.
Both the United States and its partners benefit from free trade agreements (FTAs), judging by the increased volumes of food and agricultural commerce between the nations, concluded a USDA analysis of 14 pacts covering a total of 20 countries. "Trends suggest that agricultural trade increased for many of these countries," said the study. "Another change was a trend toward specialization in certain products."
U.S. farmers face sky-high fertilizer prices as the spring planting season approaches, but their supply may be more assured than that of Brazil growers in the wake of economic sanctions on Russia, said three university economists. Brazil imports 85 percent of its fertilizer, with Russia ordinarily supplying one-fifth of it.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine will have, at most, a muted effect on U.S. food prices, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Thursday. “We have tremendous (domestic) production capacity,” he told reporters attending the USDA’s annual Agricultural Outlook Forum.
U.S. fertilizer companies are "materially injured" by imports of subsidized phosphate fertilizer from Russia and Morocco, said the U.S. International Trade Commission on Thursday, so it approved, on a 4-1 vote, the imposition of countervailing duties on the imports.
China bought a mammoth 5.85 tonnes of American-grown corn last week, including 2.108 million tonnes on the same day that the White House said the "phase one agreement" that de-escalated the trade war was under review. "The national security team, the newly confirmed secretary of state, President Biden are all reviewing all aspects of our national security approach, including certainly our relationship with China," said press secretary Jen Psaki.
Apparently due to the pandemic, the United States was running its smallest agricultural trade balance at the nine-month mark in a fiscal year, $1.7 billion, since the turn of the century, according to USDA data. The sector ordinarily is a bright spot in U.S. trade data, with annual surpluses that can run into the tens of billions of dollars.
Freezing wet weather in the northern Plains has pummeled the sugarbeet crop and cut deeply into domestic sugar production. The USDA said it "fully intends to take appropriate actions to ensure an adequate supply of sugar," language likely to mean it will allow larger than usual imports of foreign-grown sugar.
The Commerce Department and Mexican tomato growers initialed a new agreement that, beginning on Sept. 19, will control U.S. imports of roughly $2 billion a year worth of fresh tomatoes from Mexico, said officials from both nations on Wednesday.
The government would hire 240 agricultural inspectors a year to work at U.S. ports under a bill introduced on Thursday by four senators. The inspectors would work for the Customs and Border Protection agency and specialize in preventing entry of agricultural pests and diseases.
The U.S. agricultural trade surplus will shrink to $13.5 billion this fiscal year, the smallest in at least six years, as exports stagnate at $141.5 billion and imports tick upward to $128 billion, said the USDA in a quarterly forecast.
Although ag exports are consistently larger than ag imports, that trade surplus is forecast to narrow to $14.5 billion in fiscal 2019, which would be the smallest surplus since the $12.2 billion of 2007, say USDA economists.