A key government report this week revealed that America’s trade deficit narrowed in June.
According to the Commerce Department, the U.S. trade deficit declined 7 percent in June to a seasonally adjusted monthly imbalance of $41.5 billion.
Total U.S. exports rose to an all-time high of $195.9 billion, while imports fell 1.2 percent, to $237.4 billion. Imports of petroleum products declined significantly.
And U.S. agricultural exports are estimated at $150 billion in 2014. If realized, that would be an all-time high and would add to the past five years which were the strongest in history.
But the outlook for American agricultural exports darkened a bit Wednesday when Russia restricted imports from the west.
Russian President Vladimir Putin retaliated this week against western sanctions imposed over the crisis in Ukraine. On Wednesday, Putin banned ALL imports of meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, and dairy products from the United States, the European Union, Australia, Canada and Norway.
The one-year ban was announced in the wake of new sanctions imposed last week by the European Union, which for the first time targeted entire sectors of the Russian economy.
In addition to concerns over Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, both the U.S. and the EU have accused Russia, of supplying arms and expertise to pro-Moscow insurgents in eastern Ukraine.
Russia accounts for less than 1 percent of total U.S. agricultural exports, but it depends heavily on imported foodstuffs -- particularly in its largest and most prosperous cities like Moscow.
While the move could have a significant impact on prices in other countries – including Russia – it had virtually no effect on U.S. commodity markets Thursday.
According to the Agriculture Department, the EU exported $15.8 billion worth of farm goods to Russia last year …more than 12 times the amount of U.S. shipments.