Agricultural Exports and 2014 Farm Bill Programs: Background and Current Issues [May 9, 2016] [open pdf - 845KB]
"U.S. agricultural exports have long been a bright spot in the U.S. balance of trade, with exports exceeding imports in every year since 1960. But the trend of recent years-increasing export sales and a wider agricultural trade surplus-was reversed in FY2015 [Fiscal Year], and the reversal is expected to be more pronounced in FY2016. After climbing to a record $152.3 billion in FY2014, U.S. farm exports declined to $139.7 billion in FY2015, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) projects a further reduction to $125 billion in FY2016. Meanwhile, the value of U.S. agricultural imports has continued to climb: In consequence, the U.S. agricultural trade surplus fell to $25.7 billion in FY2015 from a peak of $43.1 billion in FY2014, and it is projected to narrow further to $6.5 billion in FY2016. Exports are a major outlet for many farm commodities, representing about 20% of the value of farm production, making exports an important contributor to farm income. Among the key variables affecting the value of U.S. agricultural exports are commodity prices, the value of the U.S. dollar vis-a-vis currencies of trading partners, and the pace of economic growth-particularly in developing and emerging countries. According to USDA, factors contributing to a continued downturn in U.S. farm exports in FY2016 include low commodity prices, a strong U.S. dollar, relatively weak importer demand, and strong foreign competition."
CRS Report for Congress, R43696
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html