USDA has announced record ag export forecasts for fiscal years 2006 and 2007, with corn, soybeans and horticulture products accounting for most of the expansion.

Exports are expected to reach a record $68 billion in fiscal 2006, eclipsing the old record of $62.5 billion set in fiscal year 2005.

For fiscal year 2007, USDA forecasts U.S. ag exports will reach a record of $72 billion, $4 billion above this year.

“These export numbers clearly illustrate the importance of opening and maintaining export markets for U.S. agricultural products,” Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns says. “Growing sales boost farm income and create close to a million jobs, benefiting the entire American economy.”

Building on momentum from 2006, export gains in 2007 are expected to be broad based. Foreign demand for corn remains strong with the amount used for ethanol production continuing to grow. Reduced South American shipments and rising foreign demand led by China should increase U.S. soybean shipments. Beef exports are forecast to rise largely due to the resumption of sales to Japan.

Trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) have had a huge impact on U.S. agricultural exports. In 2005, U.S. agricultural exports to both Canada and Mexico totaled $19.6 billion. They are forecast to reach $23.7 billion by 2007, accounting for a third of all U.S. ag exports.

Imports for fiscal year 2007 are forecast at $68.5 billion, up $4 billion from the 2006 estimate of $64.5 billion. This makes for a $3.5 billion trade surplus for both 2006 and 2007. The largest import gains are forecast for fresh fruits, vegetables and wines.

ADM Introduces Financing Program

Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) has introduced a Grain Producer Financing Program designed for marketing and financing needs. This program lets producers access monetary loans for ag-related needs with repayment through grain settlements.

According to producers' individual marketing strategies, they are able to choose one of ADM's grain contract alternatives, and then repay when they deliver on the grain contract.

A benefit of the program is that it's driven by market opportunities of the producer versus a calendar date for loan repayment. ADM says this allows producers to make grain marketing decisions based on the market rather than on the timing of cash flow needs, such as a loan repayment or product discount.

Applications and more information on the program are available online at www.e-adm.com.