Trade winds shift - US Ag exports slide

USAgNet - 02/12/2024

American farmers exported less in 2023, with the value of agricultural and related products dropping 10% to $191 billion. This three-year low marks a shift from the record highs of 2022 and reflects both lower commodity prices and reduced shipment volumes.

Bulk commodities like soybeans, corn, wheat, and cotton, major players in the export game, saw a particularly rough year. Their volume dipped 17% compared to 2022, marking the steepest annual decline since 1985. These challenges were even sharper when looking at China, a key market. Increased competition from suppliers like Brazil, whose corn and soy shipments surged 29%, made it harder for the US to meet Chinese demand. China's share of US soybean imports also sank to a 20-year low, highlighting diversification in its sourcing strategies.

Despite the agricultural sector's struggles, overall US exports (including goods and services) inched up 1% to a record $3.05 trillion. However, this pales in comparison to the double-digit growth rates of the previous two years.

The share of agriculture in total US exports also dipped to 6.2%, the lowest in four years. While bulk commodity exports saw a 22% drop in value compared to 2022's peak, there were some bright spots. Soybean meal shipments hit a record high, pork and pork product exports climbed 8%, and ethanol exports jumped 9% thanks to boosted domestic corn processing.

This mixed picture underscores the complex dynamics of agricultural exports. While challenges exist, like price fluctuations and evolving trade relationships, the sector also exhibits adaptability and resilience. Looking ahead, navigating these shifts and capitalizing on opportunities will be crucial for the continued success of US agricultural exports.

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