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. Sales were 14% higher than the previous mark of $172.7 billion, set one year ago in fiscal 2021.
China, the No. 1 market, bought a record $36.4 billion of U.S. agricultural products, topping its 2021 record of $33.6 billion, trade analyst Dylan Russell told USDA’s radio news service. Canada was second, with $28.3 billion, and Mexico was third, at $28 billion. In fiscal 2021, Canada imported $24.3 billion and Mexico bought $23.9 billion of U.S. agricultural goods. The three top customers accounted for 47 cents of every $1 in sales.
The record-breaking exports were driven by “huge increases” in sales, said Russell. Soybeans, the single largest ag export, climbed 26%, to $33.3 billion. Wheat exports were up 15%, to $8.3 billion, and corn rose 12%. Cotton had the largest increase in percentage terms, 41%, to $9 billion. Dairy, red meats and ethanol also notched large increases. But rice sales fell 10% and tobacco 27%.
Imports also surged, shooting up 19%, to $194 billion, leaving a scant trade surplus of $2.4 billion, compared to the surplus of $8.4 billion the previous year. Ag imports are dominated by shipments of fruits, vegetables, nuts, wine, beer, distilled spirits, sweeteners and tropical products such as coffee and cocoa.
The USDA has forecast another bumper year for exports, estimated at near-record $193.5 billion in the fiscal year that opened Oct. 1. Soybean exports would rise to $35.2 billion and horticultural products to $39.5 billion, while cotton, beef and sorghum exports turn downward. “The global economic outlook for 2022 and 2023 is growing more uncertain due to the continued materialization of downside risks,” said the USDA in the Aug. 30 forecast.