Economic Tidbits

Ag Exports Near $10 Billion

In a year when the value of U.S. agricultural exports set a record, it is not surprising 2022 was also a record-setting one for exports from Nebraska. Nebraska’s agricultural exports were $9.97 billion, $763 million or 8 percent greater than 2021 (Figure 1). It marks the third consecutive year of record-setting exports. Since 2019, Nebraska’s overseas sales have grown $3.7 billion, or 60 percent. Nebraska again was the fifth-largest agricultural exporting state trailing only California, Iowa, Illinois, and Minnesota. Nebraska topped the nation in exports of beef at $1.86 billion, was the second-largest exporter of hides and skins ($141 million), the third-largest exporter of corn ($2.25 billion), feed ($1.28 billion), and processed grain products ($442 million), and the fifth-largest exporter of soybeans ($2.3 billion), soybean meal ($417 million), and vegetable oil ($277 million). 

FIGURE 1. TOTAL NEBRASKA AGRICULTURAL EXPORT VALUE

Source: USDA Economic Research Service

Soybeans, corn, and beef remained solidly entrenched as Nebraska’s top agricultural exports, accounting for nearly two-thirds of total exports (Figure 2). Soybeans were the top export, up 23 percent from the prior year, tracking U.S. exports which were up 26 percent in value. The USDA says that the export value of soybeans “was mostly driven by growth in prices, but volumes also rose significantly on strong protein demand in most top export markets.” China was the largest soybean purchaser, but growth was also seen from Mexico, the European Union, Egypt, and Japan. Nebraska’s corn exports were off 4 percent, but they still finished as the second highest on record. Like soybeans, China was the largest buyer followed by Mexico and Japan. Exports to these three countries accounted for 71 percent of total U.S. corn exports. Finally, the value of Nebraska beef exports rose 13 percent, also setting a record. The USDA attributes last year’s growth in beef trade to robust demand from East Asian countries. Purchases by South Korea, Japan, and China accounted for 62 percent of total U.S. exports.

U.S. agricultural exports in 2023, so far, are trailing last year’s record-setting levels. A stronger dollar, a sluggish global economy, competition, and world geopolitics have been headwinds to continued growth. U.S. agricultural exports were expected to decline in 2023. The decline, though, has been more severe than what most people expected. Nebraska’s string of years of record-setting exports will likely end at three.

FIGURE 2. NEBRASKA EXPORTS BY COMMODITY ($)

Source: USDA Economic Research Service

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