U.S. ag exports continue strong start to the year

Published: Mar. 10, 2021 at 8:23 AM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - U.S. farm exports continue to be in good shape. Our foreign sales in January totaled almost 15 and a half billion dollars—the 4th straight month they’ve been over $15 billion and the first time ever we’ve had sales that high for that long. And with our ag imports reaching $12.8 billion in January, we were left with a positive balance of trade in agriculture of $2.65 billion. So far during the 2021 marketing year, we have over $62 billion in foreign ag sales versus imports of just under 47 and a half billion, giving us a positive balance of trade of $14.6 billion. For the year, USDA economists project our ag exports will reach $157 billion and our imports will get to 137 and a half billion dollars for a positive trade balance of 19 and a half billion dollars.

Before the record cold weather hit in early February and caused dairy processing facilities in many southern states to close temporarily, cheese plants were going full speed. Cheese production in January reached 1.11 billion pounds for the month—the largest amount ever produced in January as production of American varieties like Cheddar saw record production. Cheddar production jumped almost 6% in January. Production of butter was up even more in January—7% higher than a year ago to 207 million pounds—record production for the month. That led to stronger butter exports for the month—up almost 82% to 6.2 million pounds.

As expected, the USDA didn’t change ending stock numbers for corn or soybeans very much in yesterday’s March Supply and Demand report. In fact they didn’t change them at all for corn, soybeans or wheat. Corn stocks remain at 1.5 billion bushels as total corn usage was put at just over 14.6 billion bushels and exports to reach 2.6 billion. Those numbers also meant no change in the expected average corn price for the year of $4.30 a bushel. Soybean stocks held at 120 million bushels with usage of the 4.1 billion bushel crop calling for about 2.2 million bushels for the soybean crush and another 2 and a quarter million bushels for export. The average soybean price is put at $11.15 a bushel—the same as the February number. The wheat ending stocks number is 836 million bushels with a national average farm gate price of $5 a bushel.

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