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USDA Projects Record Farm Exports in 2004

posted on May 28, 2004

Russia has set its sights on joining the World Trade Organization by 2005. The Russians already have signed a bilateral agreement with the European Union, their biggest trading partner, detailing what Moscow has to do to gain WTO membership. But there's still a long way to go. The Russians must strike bilateral deals with other big WTO players, including the United States, China and Japan.

Adding Russia to the world's largest trading club could further open an important market for U.S. farmers, who increasingly are enjoying the benefits of foreign sales.

USDA Projects Record Farm Exports in 2004 USDA projects record farm exports of $61.5 billion for fiscal 2004, thanks to expanding economies in big U.S. markets like Japan and China.

The projected total would be $1.7 billion above the 1996 record and $5.3 billion more than fiscal 2003. USDA based its predicted increase on strong economic growth overseas, favorable exchange rates, and limited competition in the corn and wheat markets.

Keith Collins, USDA Economist: "One factor, of course as always, is weather. We did have some short grain crops in Russia and Ukraine and in the Western European countries last year and that's helped give us some grain markets around the world. A second factor is the global economy, which is doing very well."

Increases are expected across-the-board. USDA forecasts grain and feed exports of $18 billion, up $3.1 billion from last year. Cotton sales should reach $4.2 billion, up $1.5 billion over 2003. And horticultural sales are projected to hit a record $13.5 billion, led by tree nuts and a broad array of processed foods.

The one sector facing decreased export sales is in livestock and livestock products, which will fall from $9 billion to $7 billion. USDA blames the outbreak of avian flu and a lone case of Mad Cow disease for the reduction.

Tags: agriculture crops government Mad Cow markets news trade USDA