The U.S. ag exports for fiscal year 2002 are forecast at $57 billion, up $3.5 billion from fiscal 2001, according to USDA. If realized, fiscal 2002 exports would be the highest since 1997 and would represent three straight years of sustained ag export growth.

Imports, projected at $39 billion for fiscal 2002, remain relatively flat, only $500 million over the latest 2001 estimate. The greater export gain next year could boost the U.S. ag trade surplus to $18 billion. The forecast for U.S. ag exports in fiscal 2001 is $53.5 billion.

Wheat and corn exports may make up most of the overall ag trade increase. U.S. wheat shipments will benefit from smaller exportable supplies in Canada and the European Union, while corn projections show less competition from China. Soybeans, soybean oil, and cotton are expected to see an export increase.

For a summary of USDA's export outlook go to: www.ers.usda.gov.