ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) -- Both agricultural exports and imports were lower in February. Our exports came in at $11.31 billion-down $130 million. But our agricultural imports were down over 1 billion dollars to 10.6 billion. That left us with a positive balance of trade for February of $711 million. That follows a negative balance of $234 million in January. So far, for this fiscal year which started in October, the U.S. has a positive balance of trade for agriculture of just over $5 billion. For the 2019 fiscal year, we had a positive trade surplus of $4.6 billion.
Graphic: USDA/MGN Online
Wisconsin's entire Congressional delegation has come together to send a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue asking him to help the state's dairy industry right now. The letter asks the secretary to authorize UASDA to buy dairy products with money from that $2 trillion stimulus package and give it away to food pantries and others in need. They also want his agency to provide money to help in places where food supply chains have been disrupted as well as re-open the Dairy Margin Coverage program and make payments retro-active to the first of the year. The letter said that without such help, the Coronavirus could cause hundreds and even thousands of farms, rural businesses and food processors to go out of business.
It's planting time in some parts of the country so USDA officials have issued their first Crop Progress Report of the season. It shows winter wheat around the country is rated 62% good to excellent this week-a little better than at this time last year. The report also shows 26% of the oats have been seeded with 24% of those plants already emerging. This week's report didn't give an update on early corn planting in the South.
That report also shows 2% of the oats have been planted here in Wisconsin and 1% of the spring tillage has been done, but farmers in most areas are saying fields are still too wet to be worked. Topsoil is rated 48% adequate and 52% surplus with North central parts of the state reporting moisture as 80% surplus