U.S. ag exports are still facing obstacles

U.S. ag leaders have had high hopes for exports this year, but first-quarter numbers remain below this time last year.

USDA’s Foreign Ag Service shows exports are down 6 percent on the year, which is hovering just above $94 billion. Administrator Daniel Whitley says there are several factors at play, including a strong U.S. dollar and large numbers out of South America. USDA Economist Bart Kenner says sales volumes paint a better picture.

“May, your bulk products are up 3 percent from last year in terms of volume. In terms of value, they are down 19 percent from last year. So, we’re seeing big unit value decrease, that is affecting the overall total export value, while we are continuing to increase volumes of those bulk exports.”

On the import side, they are up 2 percent compared to this time last year.