USDA forecasts agricultural exports will decline in 2023

Lower beef and poultry exports contribute to weaker outlook.

Krissa Welshans, Livestock Editor

June 2, 2023

3 Min Read
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Decreases in corn, wheat, beef, and poultry exports led the USDA to reduce its latest 2023 U.S. agricultural exports forecast to $181.0 billion, down $3.5 billion from its February forecast. Imports are projected at $198.0 billion in 2023, down $1.0 billion from February, a decrease primarily driven by horticultural, livestock, dairy, and poultry product imports, USDA said. This year’s trade deficit is the first since 2020.

“We’re looking at a trade gap of about $17 billion in terms of imports over exports,” said USDA Chief Economist Seth Meyer, adding that a large portion of this is in horticultural products.

USDA said $99 billion of that is in fresh vegetable and fruit products in the winter when they may not be produced in the U.S.

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Corn exports decline

On the grain and feed side, exports are forecast at $40.5 billion, down $3.3 billion from the February forecast. The oilseed and products exports forecast, on the other hand, is raised $100 million to $43.5 billion.

USDA forecasts corn exports at $14.5 billion, down $2.1 billion from the previous forecast on both lower unit values and volumes. Brazil is forecast to have a record production this year, which USDA said has eased global prices and made Brazil’s corn more price competitive than U.S. corn.

According to the report, soybean exports are projected up $300 million to $32.3 billion on slightly higher volumes. Soybean export value is up marginally to $32.3 billion on a slightly improved trade volume outlook. Soybean meal export volume also increased, with export value up $100 million to $6.3 billion.

Livestock, poultry, and dairy exports lowered

USDA lowered the outlook for livestock, poultry, and dairy exports by $1.2 billion to $39.3 billion as lower beef and poultry estimates outweigh gains in dairy. Beef exports had the largest decline, down $700 million to $9.3 billion as weaker unit values for beef muscle cuts more than offset firm shipments to Mexico and East Asia. USDA left the pork exports forecast unchanged at $6.3 billion.

Poultry and products are lowered $300 million to $6.7 billion, the result of a weaker outlook for chicken paw shipments to China, USDA said.

Dairy exports are up $100 million to $8.9 billion on higher-than-expected volumes of non-fat dry milk, cheese, lactose, and whey.

Economic growth challenges materializing

USDA said that even as inflation remains on a slowing trend, economic growth challenges are materializing as monetary conditions tighten. World real gross domestic product (GDP) is projected to increase by 2.8% in 2023, unchanged from the previous forecast. Projected growth for the United States’ real GDP in 2023 is raised to 1.6%, up from 1.4% in February.

USDA said U.S. consumer spending has been resilient, but April 2023 Consumer Price Index (CPI) showed prices had increased by 4.9% percent over the past 12 months.

Meanwhile, USDA said the Federal Reserve has reaffirmed its intention to continue its scheduled interest rate hikes given above-target inflation and the low unemployment rate, last measured at 3.4% in April by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.


About the Author(s)

Krissa Welshans

Livestock Editor

Krissa Welshans grew up on a crop farm and cow-calf operation in Marlette, Michigan. Welshans earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Michigan State University and master’s degree in public policy from New England College. She and her husband Brock run a show cattle operation in Henrietta, Texas, where they reside with their son, Wynn.

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