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USDA: Ag exports to approach this year's record volume

There is good news and bad news concerning next year’s projected U.S. agriculture exports. The bad news is the U.S. Department of Agriculture expects a decrease in exports in 2014 compared to 2013. The good news is USDA foresees 2014’s exports just missing this year’s activity, which was an all-time record.

Newly released USDA forecasts call for U.S. agriculture exports in 2014 to eclipse $137 billion, just shy of the $140 billion reached in 2013.

“Our country’s bull run in agriculture exports is clearly not at an end, and every indication shows that exports will remain strong over the coming decade,” said Jerry Hingle, executive director of the Southern United States Trade Association.

USDA economists point to rising global GDP growth and a slight weakening of the U.S. dollar, which makes American products more competitive in the international marketplace, as reason for the strong showing again next year. The value of exports is expected to drop slightly next year due to lower crop prices, but export volume will remain on the rise.

“Much of the growth is in value-added food and agriculture — such as meats, horticulture and packaged consumer goods,” Hingle said. “This is where we’ve become more competitive and consumer demand is growing fastest, particularly in Asia where incomes are rising.”

Added to this are exciting new opportunities to expand exports thanks to the widening of the Panama Canal and free trade agreements that are in the works, such as the Trans Pacific Partnership, which will make the U.S. even more competitive. “This is an exciting time for us in the agriculture industry and more U.S. businesses need to be taking advantage of this trend,” Hingle said.

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