WASHINGTON, D.C. - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made the following statement on data released yesterday showing that U.S. farm exports reached an all-time high of $75 billion during the first half of fiscal year 2011:
"Today's trade data demonstrate that, once again, America's farmers and ranchers are helping lead the way to recovery from the worst economic recession in decades. The gains in U.S. agricultural exports are particularly encouraging news for those who live in rural America or earn a living in farming, ranching and agriculture-related industries, because exports are creating jobs here at home. Farm exports alone will support more than one million jobs in America this year. Strong U.S. farm exports will be a key contributor to building an economy that continues to grow, innovate and out-compete the rest of the world.
"At $75 billion, U.S. agricultural exports for FY 2011 are 27 percent higher than the same period in last year. This puts us on track to reach the current USDA export forecast of $135.5 billion by the end of the year.
"As expected, China is our top export market. With $15.1 billion in farm exports, China accounted for nearly 20 percent of all U.S. agricultural exports. Canada is our second-largest market.
"Both the value and volume of exports rose in the first half of the year, with the volume of bulk shipments up 5 percent from last year. Wheat and cotton volumes were especially robust, with increases of 64 percent 44 percent, respectively.
"March was the highest-grossing month for U.S. agricultural exports ever. During that month alone, U.S. farmers and ranchers exported $13.3 billion worth of U.S. agricultural goods. That's $407 million more than the previous record set in November 2010.
"Congress can help U.S. farmers and ranchers sustain their record growth by moving expeditiously to pass the South Korea, Colombia and Panama trade agreements. When fully implemented, those three agreements have potential to add more than $2 billion per year to our exports and support job creation here at home. Gains like these will help farmers and ranchers continue to contribute to President Obama's National Export Initiative goal of doubling all U.S. exports by 2014."
The latest export data is available via the Global Agricultural Trade System at http://www.fas.usda.gov/data.asp