U.S. agricultural exports are projected to total $134.5 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2019 (October 2018–September 2019), while agricultural imports are expected to total $129.3 billion, according to ERS’s recent Outlook for U.S. Agricultural trade.
The $5.2 billion surplus projected for FY 2019 is the lowest since FY 2006, when the U.S. exported $4.6 billion more in agricultural goods than it imported. Unlike overall U.S. trade in goods and services, U.S. trade in the agricultural sector consistently runs at a surplus.
Although agricultural exports have increased in value since 2016, the value of imports has risen at a slightly faster rate, leading to a declining trade balance.
Compared to the previous Outlook for Agricultural Trade forecasts in May 2019, exports were revised downward by $2.5 billion while imports were raised by $0.3 billion. The decline in expected export value was primarily due to lowered expectations for corn and soybean exports.
For imports, the increase in the forecast was due in part to an increase in the expected value of horticultural imports, such as fruits and vegetables. Initial projections for the FY 2020 suggest a small recovery in the agricultural trade balance to $8.0 billion, with exports valued at $137.0 billion and imports valued at $129.0 billion.
This chart is drawn from data discussed in the ERS quarterly Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade, released in August 2019