Vilsack: US ag exports at highest level ever
The American agricultural industry posted its highest annual export levels ever recorded in 2021, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Tuesday.
The final 2021 trade data published by the Commerce Department Tuesday, Feb. 8, morning shows that exports of U.S. farm and food products to the world totaled $177 billion, topping the 2020 total by 18% and eclipsing the previous record, set in 2014, by 14.6%, USDA noted.
“These record-breaking trade numbers demonstrate that U.S. agriculture is incredibly resilient as it continues to provide high-quality, cost-competitive farm and food products to customers around the globe and that the Biden-Harris administration’s agenda is working for American farmers and producers,” Vilsack said. “This is a major boost for the economy as a whole, and particularly for our rural communities, with agricultural exports stimulating local economic activity, helping maintain our competitive edge globally, supporting producers’ bottom lines, and supporting more than 1.3 million jobs on the farm and in related industries such as food processing and transportation.”
The United States’ top 10 export markets all saw gains in 2021, with six of the 10 – China, Mexico, Canada, South Korea, the Philippines and Colombia – setting new records, USDA said. Worldwide exports of many U.S. products, including soybeans, corn, beef, pork, dairy, distillers grains and pet food, also reached all-time highs. China remained the top export destination, with a record $33 billion in purchases, up 25% from 2020, while Mexico inched ahead of Canada to capture the No. 2 position with a record $25.5 billion, up 39% from last year.
“It’s clear that our international trading partners are responding favorably to a return to certainty from the United States,” Vilsack said. “We owe our thanks to America’s agricultural producers who always work hard to be reliable global suppliers, and the Biden-Harris administration and USDA are fighting hard on their behalf to keep our home-grown products moving around the world. We’re strengthening relationships with our trading partners and holding those partners accountable for their commitments. We’re addressing transportation and infrastructure challenges through the work of the administration’s Supply Chain Task Force and calling out ocean carriers that are putting profits above their responsibility to serve both importers and exporters. And we’re expanding opportunities for agricultural exports by knocking down trade barriers and partnering with industry on marketing and promotion efforts worldwide.”
The United States achieved these export levels even though China did not live up to its phase one trade agreement promises.
The U.S. dairy industry in particular celebrated the export news.
“Outstanding results like last year’s record-setting $7.75 billion in U.S. dairy exports don’t happen overnight. They’re the result of a lot of hard work by our industry to build demand for U.S. dairy products around the world and harness the opportunities that past trade deals – from U.S. free trade agreements to the World Trade Organization’s Uruguay Round – have made available,” said Krysta Harden, president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council. “We look forward to continuing to build on this success further and to ensure we have the right trade and export supply chain policy tools to support that growth.”
International Dairy Foods Association President and CEO Michael Dykes said, “Today’s export figures demonstrate how the United States is poised to become the world’s leading supplier of dairy products thanks to the resilience and innovation of American dairy exporters and dairy foods companies. Consumers in the United States and around the world continue to demand more U.S. dairy because we provide an assortment of delicious, nutritious, affordable, and sustainable dairy products. From high-value whey to award-winning cheeses, from milk powders used to make life-saving products for children and adults to safe and nutritious ESL milk, U.S. dairy is known throughout the world for quality and reliability.”
Both Harden and Dykes said the exports would have been higher if the industry did not face supply chain issues.
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