WASHINGTON — U.S. imports are projected to hit record
levels, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research
Service’s revised fiscal 2014 agricultural trade forecast.
Imports are expected to increase by $5.7 billion from fiscal
2013 to a new high of $109.5 billion. U.S. imports were $103.4 billion in 2012.
The forecast projects exports to fall by $3.9 billion from
the previous record high in 2013 to $137 billion, but up $2 billion from the
Compared with the August estimate, grain and feed exports
are forecast down $700 million to $28.1 billion, mostly due to lower unit values
for wheat and certain feed products.
Coarse grain exports are projected at $8.3 billion, down
slightly on lower unit values that more than offset sharply higher volumes.
Corn volume is forecast at 36 million tons, up 3.5 million
from August on a record crop and strong early season sales.
Corn exports are estimated at $7.4 billion for 2014, down
from the 2011 high of nearly $12.9 billion, but above last year’s $5.54 billion.
Fiscal 2014 wheat exports are forecast at $7.2 billion, a
decrease of $500 million due to lower value and volume. Competition with Canada
is projected to intensify as it tries to move its record crop.
The fiscal 2014 forecast for oilseed exports is up $2.4
billion to $28.8 billion on higher unit values and record early-season sales of
soybeans and soybean meal. Oilseed exports reached nearly $32.1 billion in 2013
and were $28.7 billion in 2012.
Improved U.S. soybean yields and higher production have
boosted the outlook for exportable supplies. Unit values also are raised based
on the strong demand and current price trends.
The combined effect led to a $1.5 billion increase in
soybeans to $19.9 billion and a $900 million rise in soybean meal export value
to $4.2 billion. Soybean exports were nearly $20.89 billion in 2013, and meal
exports were valued at $5.475 billion last year.
With improved global vegetable oil supplies lowering unit
values, the U.S. soybean oil export forecast was down $130 million.
Livestock, Poultry, Dairy
The forecast for combined livestock, poultry and dairy was
raised $700 million to a record $31.8 billion on higher pork, dairy and beef
Pork exports are forecast nearly $400 million higher to $5.5
billion, mostly on higher prices, with strong demand expected from Mexico and
some Asian markets.
Dairy was raised $300 million to $5.9 billion on strong
global prices and growing international demand, particularly from Asia.
Beef export projections increased by nearly $100 million to
$5 billion, with higher prices due to strong global demand and tight
other-exporter supplies. However, U.S. exports will be constrained by tight
domestic supplies due to lower production.
Poultry is forecast nearly $100 million lower to $6.4
billion on lower broiler meat prices.
The fiscal 2014 export forecast for horticultural products
is unchanged at a record $34.5 billion.
Increases in import value are expected for most products in
2014, with the largest gains in horticultural products and sugar and tropical
Imports of horticultural crops and products are projected to
increase by $4 billion in 2014 as import demand for fresh fruits and vegetables,
processed fruit, wine and essential oils continue their healthy year-to-year
Horticulture’s share of total imports is anticipated at 44
percent, up from 42 percent in 2013.
The U.S. agricultural trade surplus is expected to fall by
$9.6 billion in fiscal 2014, to $27.5 billion. This would be the smallest
surplus since $22.9 billion in 2009. The most recent high trade surplus was
$42.9 billion in 2011.
The report also provided a world economic outlook. Lower
U.S. energy prices and more available credit at continued low interest rates
make the U.S. agricultural trade outlook promising in 2014.
Expanding U.S. energy supplies from natural gas and
oilfields in 2014 means that fossil fuels will be available at a discount on
domestic U.S. markets, albeit a smaller discount than in 2013.
Farmers will benefit from lower fuel costs in 2014,
facilitating higher agricultural output and export volumes.
World income growth, estimated at 2.1 percent in 2013, is
projected to rise to 2.8 percent in 2014.
Trade growth is estimated at 2.5 percent in 2013 and is
likely to double in 2014 to become a key factor in improved prospects for higher
Asian gross domestic product growth in 2013, at about 4
percent, will continue at the same pace in 2014.
China and other emerging Asian economies, in pursuing
policies of more consumer-oriented and sustainable growth, have become less
World trade growth is expected to accelerate in 2014 as the
end of Europe’s recession, coupled with a speed-up of North American, Japanese,
Latin American and African growth, boosts higher exports to and imports from
The main, but low probability, downside risk to higher world
growth in 2014 is a Brazil, Russia, India and China growth slowdown, according
to the report.