The value of U.S. agricultural exports in 2022 continues to leave last year’s record pace in its wake. Exports through September equaled $144 billion, up 15 percent over 2021, or $20 billion (Figure 1). Sales of soybeans, wheat, beef, and animal feed led the way, up 40 percent, 20 percent, 20 percent, and 14 percent respectively. Exports of most other Nebraska commodities are higher too, up 6-80 percent. Hides and skins are the only good to see lower sales this year. Higher prices are fueling the growth as many commodities are seeing lower volumes shipped this year. The volume of corn exports is off 9 percent, pork exports are down 13 percent, and wheat exports are off 14 percent. Soybeans and beef exports are the exception. Soybean tonnage is up 15 percent year-over-year and beef is up 4 percent.
U.S. agricultural imports are also higher this year at $149.1 billion, up more than $23 billion. So far this year the U.S. is running a trade deficit in agricultural goods of $5.1 billion. Last year saw a trade surplus of $1.6 billion over the same period. This year’s deficit is atypical as the U.S. generally runs a trade surplus in agricultural goods. Perhaps a strong fourth quarter for exports relative to imports can turn the tide. The largest U.S. agricultural imports are fruits, vegetables, wine, liquor, grain products, vegetable oils, and beef. Nebraska imports of agricultural goods consist of live animals, oilseed meal, beef, yeast, and other feeds and grains. Most of Nebraska’s imports originate in Canada.
The latest projections suggest U.S. agricultural exports will slow over the next 12-18 months. Slowing economic growth, rising interest rates, inflation, and the value of the dollar are creating headwinds for exports. The October World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) project lower export volumes for corn, soybeans, sorghum, wheat, and beef over the next year. Already, some of the headwinds are affecting trade. For example, the value of beef exports were down 7 percent in September compared to a year ago, the first month this year where beef exports have been lower compared to the prior year.
Figure 1. Percentage Change in Agricultural Export Values: 2019-2021, YTD 2022