I wrote an article almost a year ago titled “Are you an exporter?” (It is archived on the GPA Extension website at http://goldenplains.colostate.edu/agri/agri_docs/2010_exporter.shtml.) In that article I used the July 2010 import/export data from the Foreign Trade office of the US Census Bureau to look at the positive effect that ag commodities in the foods, feeds, and beverages sector have as US exports. The import/export data for July 2011 was released on September 8th, so I thought that it might be a good opportunity to revisit ag commodity imports and exports as an article topic.
In July 2011, the US imported $222.8 billion in goods and services, while exporting $178.0 billion in goods and services. That gave us a negative trade deficit of -$44.8 billion for the month of July. In 2010 the July trade deficit was -$42.8 billion.
The agricultural sector exported nearly $10.1 billion worth of foods, feeds, & beverages during July 2011; which was about 5.7 percent of all July 2011 exports. That is roughly $2.2 billion more in ag exports of this type than during the same period a year ago. The top five sectors were 1) meat, poultry, etc., 2) corn, 3) soybeans, 4) other foods, & 5) wheat. The order is the same as last year with the exception that wheat replaces fruits and frozen juices.
The ag imports of foods, feeds, and beverages for this year’s July were nearly $8.9 billion, an increase of $2.3 billion when compared to July 2010. The top five imported of these were 1) fish and shellfish, 2) fruits and frozen juices, 3) vegetables, 4) other foods, & 5) bakery products. When compared to last year, this order has a switch between vegetables and other foods and bakery products replaced meat products.
The commodities within the foods, feeds, and beverages sector carried a positive trade balance of slightly greater than $1.2 billion for the US during July 2011. That is similar to last year during the same period. It may not seem like a lot when we are talking about a total trade deficit in July of -$44.8 billion, but at least agriculture is doing its part to have a positive affect within the trade equation.
As a side note, some readers may question why I stayed with edible commodities for my comparisons and didn’t report on products like cotton, wool, lumber, leather, etc. The reason is that the data for these fibrous commodities are reported in the industrial supplies and materials section of the Foreign Trade Office’s report. In that section, some products are allocated and grouped in a manner that is complicated to sort out when comparing imports vs. exports.
The August trade data is schedule to be posted on October 13th. I challenge you to take a few minutes to look at that data once it has been publically reported. See what the top five exports were in August. Figure out what the agricultural trade balance for August was. Look up the individual commodity data for the product(s) that you produce. Then think about how this information may have affected your operation and marketing opportunities. You may just surprise yourself.