USDA has cut its estimate of U.S. agricultural exports for fiscal 2009 by $14.5 billion, or nearly 13%, due to falling prices and weak demand caused by the global recession.

USDA on Monday forecast fiscal 2009 farm exports at $98.5 billion, down from an August estimate of $113 billion. USDA's quarterly trade report also projected farm imports of $81 billion – down $2 billion from its previous forecast, but still a record. Fiscal 2008 imports were pegged at $79.3 billion.

"The outlook for U.S. exports has changed dramatically with the expectation of global recession in 2009," says USDA. "The combination of weaker global demand, falling prices and an appreciating dollar create a very unfavorable outlook for U.S. exports."

Sales for 2009 are now projected to be down $17 billion, or 14%, from the record $115.5 billion in sales recorded in fiscal 2008, which ended on Sept. 30, but are still expected to be well above the five-year average.

USDA said wheat was forecast to sell for an average $290/metric ton, down 23% from the fiscal 2008 average.

Corn export volume and prices also were lowered from the August estimate. Soybean prices and export tonnage are down but "China's import demand remains at near-record levels," says USDA.

Cotton exports were forecast at $4 billion, down $1.9 billion from August. USDA says China would see its first year-to-year decline in cotton consumption since 1998-1999.

"Deteriorating world economic conditions dampen consumer demand for textiles and pressure cotton prices," says the report.

Editor’s note: Richard Brock, Corn & Soybean Digest's marketing editor, is president of Brock Associates, a farm market advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report.