U.S. exports of corn and soybeans continued at a torrid flow in the first half of the year. Through July, the value of corn exports was up a whopping 140 percent, while the value of soybean exports was up 74 percent. Figure 1 shows the annual percentage changes in export values in 2019 (blue), 2020 (red), and the first half of 2021 (grey) for some of Nebraska’s top export commodities. Across the board, exports are higher this year compared to last, with most commodities up at least 20 percent. Hides and skins were up 28 percent, both animal feeds and red meats (beef, pork, and lamb) increased 20 percent respectively, and wheat was up 17 percent. Overall, the value of U.S. agricultural exports was up 34 percent compared to last year.
The U.S. Meat Export Federation (MEF) says beef and pork shipments set a record pace in the first half of the year. For example, the value of beef exports was up 18 percent compared to 2018—a record-setting year for beef exports. As a result, beef exports accounted for almost 15 percent of total U.S. beef production during the period. Increased trade with several Asian and Central American countries are fueling the growth.
Various reports have suggested the pace of exports have slowed in recent months. The USDA says the slackening of demand from China, higher commodity prices, tighter supplies, and competition from other exporting countries mean exports will be hard pressed to continue the pace seen in the first half of the year. Still, while softer, exports will remain strong compared to recent years. Good news for Nebraska producers.
Figure 1. Percentage Changes in Export Values: 2019, 2020, & Jan-July 2021