Secretary of Agriculture announced during his remarks to the National Association of Farm Broadcasting that USDA has completed the analysis of exports for the past fiscal year and did reach a record amount of $137.4 billion of agricultural exports.
"This is $22.5 billion higher than the export number last year," Vilsack said. "It is a testament to the extraordinary productivity and the quality and the affordability of what American farmers, ranchers and producers are producing, growing and raising in America and exporting around the world. The fact that this helps to support 1.15 million jobs in the economy, underscores the importance of this particular part of our economy, and the important role that it plays."
According to Vilsack, one out of every 12 jobs in the country is connected in one form or another to agriculture and that agricultural exports is one of the ways in which agriculture is helping to get our economy moving in the right direction. He says that next year is expected to be another good year for agricultural exports bolstered by the passage of free trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia.
"Our export trade is the only part of the economy that has a significant trade surplus," Vilsack said. "This year's trade surplus will be $42.7 billion; that too is a record. To give you a sense of how much that has grown in a relatively short period of time. If we had met five years ago to talk about these numbers that trade surplus would have been just short of $5 billion, so there has been an eightfold increase."
Vilsack says the American brand of agricultural products is the best in the world and that USDA wants to continue the momentum.
"If we continue to be productive; continue to invest in the research that allows us to be productive," Vilsack said. "If we can find a way to invest and improve our infrastructure: our roads, our bridges, our ports, our dams, our lock systems so we get the product to market more quickly I think we can grow these numbers even more."