Agriculture trade is back in the black in August

Published: Oct. 9, 2020 at 7:11 AM CDT
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ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) - Our agriculture balance of trade was back in the black in August after 5 straight months of red ink. U.S. farm exports for the month were $11.1 billion while imports were 10.9 billion. Those numbers meant a positive balance of trade of over $245 million for August. For the year so far, our ag exports have reached $123.7 billion while our ag imports have totaled $122.3 billion-leaving us with a trade surplus of $1.4 billion. One of the main reasons for those increases has been large soybean and corn purchases by the Chinese ever since Brazil ran out of product earlier this summer.

But the numbers for our overall trade deficit aren’t so good. New government numbers show overall balance of trade is going to be more than $600 this year. Economists say there are many reasons for so much red ink-mainly the big government stimulus payments which encouraged more imports than exports. They also blame the one and a half billion dollar tax cut in 2017 for a good share of the deficit as well as our trade deal with China since the Chinese are going to fall billions of dollars short of what they have agreed to buy from us this year.

While in Chippewa County yesterday to announce a $3 million grant to Chippewa Valley Electric Cooperative and Citizens Connected to be used for broadband expansion around the Cornell and Cadott areas, Undersecretary of Agriculture Bill Northey also announced sign-up begins October 13 for the Dairy Margin Protection Program for 2021. That program offers dairy farmers protection when the difference between the all-milk price and the average feed price falls below a certain dollar amount. About 30% of the dairies that sign up for DMC are from Wisconsin. Sign-up will run through December 11th at County Farm Service Agency offices.

The only one of its kind among FFA chapters across the country won’t happen this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Pittsville FFA which has run their Splash of Red Cranberry tours for the past 18 years is cancelling this year’s tours. Those bus tours, organized and run by FFA students, have been their major fund raiser as they took people to the bogs to show how cranberries are grown and harvested. FFA advisor Lindsay Meissner said they plan to bring the tours back in 2021.

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