WASHINGTON, D.C. - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack issued the following statement on the forecast for U.S. agricultural trade in fiscal year 2011:

"The USDA is announcing that U.S. farm exports in fiscal year 2011 are forecast to set an all-time record high of $126.5 billion. The new high exceeds fiscal year 2008, formerly the highest level on record at $114.9 billion, by $11.6 billion, and tops a strong fiscal 2010 by $17.8 billion. Furthermore, agriculture continues to be one of the only major sectors of the American economy with a trade surplus - expected to be $41 billion in this fiscal year.

"The forecast demonstrates that the demand for U.S. food and agriculture around the world is stronger than ever. Sales are surging in China, Southeast Asia, North America and the Middle East. In fact, today's forecast sees China pulling within $500 million of Canada, the United States' top export market in fiscal year 2011.

“The report is particularly encouraging news for all Americans during trying economic times, especially those who live in rural America or earn a living in farming, ranching and agriculture-related industries such as transportation. Each $1 billion in exports supports 8,000 jobs, meaning that agricultural exports alone in fiscal 2011 are expected to support more than 1 million U.S. jobs.

"The strong work ethic, deep values and incredible productivity in Rural America is helping U.S. Agriculture lead our nation's recovery and achieve President Obama's goal of doubling U.S. exports over the next 5 years.”