It's an open question if U.S. ag exports were as large as forecast in fiscal 2021, but a running tally by the USDA says they were the largest ever. Shipments to foreign buyers totaled $160.2 billion with one month to go in the fiscal year, topping the record of $156.8 billion set in fiscal 2014.
Speaking to a farm conference, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said China's adherence to its commitment to buy mammoth quantities of U.S. farm exports will be a test of the Asian nation's place in global relations. While China has buoyed commodity prices with its purchases, it is not on track to meet the goal of importing $43.6 billion worth of U.S. food, agricultural, and seafood products by the end of December.
A favorable growing season and government policies that encourage crop rotations will result in a record corn crop in China, estimated the USDA. China is second to the United States as a corn producer and will be the world's largest corn importer for the second year in a row, according to the monthly World Agricultural Production report.
Higher prices for corn, soybeans, hogs, cattle, and broiler chickens — top U.S. ag products — will boost net farm income to $113 billion this year, the highest since 2013, estimated the Agriculture Department on Thursday. Income would be 26 percent higher than the 10-year average, reflecting the economy-wide recovery from the pandemic.
Propelled by the global economic recovery from the pandemic, U.S. farm exports will set back-to-back sales records this fiscal year and in the new year beginning on Oct. 1, the government forecast on Thursday. China would account for $1 of every $5 in exports during the two-year span, with annual purchases running more than $10 billion above its previous record, set in 2014.
Exporters sold $15.2 billion worth of American farm products to China in the first six months of 2021, raising the possibility of record sales this year, wrote economist David Widmar on Monday on the Agricultural Economic Insights blog. Sales are on pace to hit $33.7 billion, with some of the most active months for sales — during and after the fall harvest — still to come.
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a mammoth USDA-FDA funding bill on Wednesday that includes $7 billion in disaster funds for crop and livestock losses in 2020 and this year. Almost immediately after the 25-5 vote, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell threatened to sidetrack the USDA and other appropriations bills in a budget dispute with Democrats, who control the Senate.
Ag exports, a key part of U.S. farm revenue, are expected to generate 36 cents of every $1 in cash income this year, thanks to high commodity prices as the world recovers its appetite and the pandemic recedes. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the country ought to diversify its sales to a broader range of markets.
China would be barred from buying more U.S. farmland and the land already in its possession would become ineligible for farm subsidies under language approved by the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday. On a voice vote, the provision was added to a $197 billion USDA-FDA funding bill headed for a vote on the House floor.
By a wide margin, soybeans are the most valuable U.S. farm export, accounting for 18 cents of every $1 in sales during calendar 2020, said the USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service on Wednesday.