U.S. Ag Exports Forecast at $137Bln, Imports at $129Bln

U.S. agricultural exports for fiscal year (FY) 2019 are projected at $137.0 billion, down $4.5 billion from the February forecast, due to reductions in grains, oilseeds, and livestock and products. Corn and wheat exports are forecast down $1.4 billion and $1.2 billion, respectively, on lower volumes and unit values.

Soybean exports are forecast down $1.5 billion to $17.0 billion, driven by lower demand due to African Swine Fever, weak prices, and continuing trade tensions with China. Livestock, dairy, and poultry exports are lowered by $500 million, as decreases in beef and veal, hides and skins, and pork exports more than offset gains in dairy exports.

Cotton exports are down $200 million to $5.7 billion. Horticulture product exports are unchanged at $35.3 billion.

Export forecasts for commodities published in the May 10 WASDE (grains, oilseeds, cotton, and livestock and products) include retaliatory tariffs in place as of that date. The impact of additional retaliatory tariffs announced by China on May 13 on exports of other commodities have been determined to be minimal for fiscal 2019.

U.S. agricultural imports in FY 2019 are projected at $129.0 billion, up $1.0 billion from the February forecast. This increase is led by horticultural products. The U.S. agricultural trade surplus is forecast at $8.0 billion, a decrease of $5.5 billion from the February forecast.

Export Products

FY 2019 grain and feed exports are forecast at $31.0 billion, down $2.7 billion from the February forecast. Corn exports are forecast at $10.4 billion, down $1.4 billion on both lower volumes and unit values. U.S. corn continues to be less price-competitive than South American corn. Sorghum exports are forecast at $400 million, down $100 million on lower volumes.

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Feeds and fodder exports are forecast unchanged at $7.7 billion. Exports of distillers’ dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and alfalfa hay continue to be robust.

Wheat exports are forecast at $6.3 billion, down $1.2 billion on lower volumes and unit values, which are pressured by the sluggish pace of shipments in recent months and projections for large new-crop supplies in major exporting countries.

The rice export is forecast unchanged at $1.7 billion. Rice volumes are expected to remain the same, as improved prospects in Central America offset lagging shipments to South America.

Oilseeds and oilseed product exports are projected at $26.4 billion, down $1.4 billion from the February forecast, driven by lower soybean volumes and unit prices.

Soybean volumes are down in part due to lower demand caused by African Swine Fever (ASF) in China and continued duties on U.S. soybeans. The price premium for South American soybeans temporarily evaporated between early January and mid-May, eliminating the price advantage that U.S. soybeans had in markets outside China.

Weaker soybean demand in China also has contributed to price weakness as U.S. producers continue to hold large stocks. On the other hand, continued strong soybean meal demand and weaker soybean prices have contributed positively to crush margins, so soybean meal prices and export volumes continue to hold steady.

The forecast for soybean oil exports is reduced by nearly $100 million on lower unit prices, partially offsetting higher values of other oilseeds and oilseed products.

Cotton exports are forecast at $5.7 billion, down $200 million on lower volumes as pessimism increases regarding U.S.-China trade relations and the level of world demand. Greater competition is also expected from Southern Hemisphere exporters. Unit values remain relatively strong.

The livestock, poultry, and dairy export forecast is reduced $500 million to $29.9 billion on declines for virtually all products except dairy, which is forecast higher.

Beef exports are forecast $300 million lower on softer prices and volumes. However, the United States is poised to expand market share in Asia as competitor Australia struggles with weather-related production impacts and lower exportable supplies.

The pork export forecast is lowered $100 million on lower volumes. The slow start to FY 2019 will be mostly offset in the second half, as stronger global demand, due to the spread of ASF in Asia, boosts prices.

The forecast for variety meat exports is essentially unchanged. Hides and skins exports are forecast $200 million lower on continuing weak global consumer demand for leather goods.

The forecast for poultry and poultry product exports is also essentially unchanged, as lower broiler meat prices are offset by gains in other products.

The forecast for dairy exports is up $200 million due to the heightened pace of cheese shipments and stronger global prices for some dairy products.

The forecast for horticultural product exports is unchanged at $35.3 billion. Whole and processed tree nuts exports are forecast at $9.1 billion (also unchanged), with a majority of shipments destined for the European Union (EU) and Asia.

Fresh fruit and vegetables exports are forecast unchanged at $7.4 billion, with top markets including Canada, the EU, and South Korea. Processed fruit and vegetable exports are forecast unchanged at $7.2 billion.

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