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Second Quarter Update: Trade Outlook for U.S. Agriculture in 2021

Read highlights from the USDA ERS Trade Outlook Report released May 26th, 2021.

The second quarter USDA trade report released May 26th, 2021, brought more good news for American ag export trade. Up $7 billion from the previous record set in the February trade update, total U.S agricultural export forecast in the fiscal year 2021 has been raised to a record $164 billion. 

Several factors were reported to have contributed to this increase, such as unfavorable crop prospects in South America and surging demand from China. Projected exports to China have been raised by $3.5 billion from February’s forecast to $35 billion, meaning $1 out of every $5 in U.S. ag export trade is estimated to come from Chinese purchases in 2021. This also means that, if realized, U.S. agricultural purchases to China in 2021 will have increased by 25 percent from 2020 (or a 64 percent increase from 2019).  

U.S. ag commodities with the highest increases in projected trade volume from the first to second quarter of 2021 include: 

  • Grain and Feeds – An increase of $3.4 billion to $41.2 billion. 
  • Soybeans – An increase of $1.5 billion to $28.9 billion.  
  • Corn – An increase of $3.2 billion to $17.2 billion. 
  • Beef and Veal – An increase of $200 million to $7.6 billion.  
  • Pork – An increase of $600 million to $7.2 billion.  
  • Dairy – An increase of $500 million to $7.0 billion.  
  • Cotton – An increase of $200 million to $6.1 billion. 
  • Poultry – An increase of $400 million to $5.5 billion. 

Although there was an overall increase in U.S. agricultural exports, several commodities experienced no change or a slight decrease, including: 

  • Horticultural Products – A decrease of $400 million to $34.1 billion. 
  • Tree Nuts – A decrease of $400 million to $8.6 billion. 
  • Fresh Fruits and Vegetables – Unchanged at $6.9 billion. 
  • Processed Fruits and Vegetables – Unchanged at $6.5 billion.  

By country, U.S. ag export projections have been raised across the board with the exception of Turkey and India due to lower than anticipated cotton and tree nut shipments.  

Visit the USDA Economic Research Service website to explore interactive summary highlights from the second quarter U.S. agriculture trade outlook report.  

Note: Q3 USDA Trade Report anticipated release date is August 26th, 2021.

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