The latest USDA 2013 outlook for U.S. Agricultural trade projects $139.5 billion in agricultural exports this fiscal year, an expected record-breaking tally.
Though the forecast is down $2.5 billion from the February projection, it is still $3.7 billion above fiscal year 2012 exports. The changes reflect lower export volumes and unit prices for wheat and corn, the USDA Economic Research Service says. The forecast for livestock, poultry and dairy is unchanged from last quarter.
Cotton, oilseeds and products offered a particularly good showing in the latest report, projected to rise $500 million and $200 million, respectively.
"[The] report is promising news that keeps American agriculture on track to continue the strongest period of exports in our nation's history," USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a press statement.
He highlighted efforts to promote trade, including new trade agreements, organic equivalency agreements, eliminating barriers to trade, and improving trade promotion programs.
"We're looking ahead to the next big achievements - particularly a Trans-Pacific Partnership with Asian nations, and a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union," Vilsack said.
Those agreements, however, have brought mixed reactions among the ag industry. Last week, the Trade Policy Staff Committee of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative held a hearing on the TTIP, during which ag groups said regulatory hurdles would need to be overcome before inking a deal.
In his comments, Vilsack noted also that a five-year Farm Bill will be an essential piece in the trade expansion puzzle.
"Trade promotion efforts provided by the current Farm Bill have been extremely valuable for U.S. producers. A long-term Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would continue these programs, enabling USDA to keep working with producers and businesses to promote their quality products around the world," he said.
The Senate continues work on the Farm Bill this week.
Overall, however, Vilsack noted that export initiatives can take advantage of world trade growth that is expected to rise to 3% in 2013, despite Europe's recession and Japan's easing growth rates.
In the last four years, agricultural exports have grown from $96.3 billion in 2009 to nearly $136 billion in fiscal 2012.
Read the report, Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade.