Farm exports remain a ‘bright spot’ for U.S. economy

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U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has released a statement on the USDA’s recently completed tally for fiscal year 2011 farm exports. As it turns out, one area of the country’s economy is operating on a trade surplus and raking in record revenues.

During remarks to the National Association of Farm Broadcasting, Vilsack praised American farmers, ranchers and producers for their work, saying:

“The American brand of agriculture is surging in popularity worldwide. Farm exports in fiscal year 2011 reached a record high of $137.4 billion—exceeding past highs by $22.5 billion—and supported 1.15 million jobs here at home.”

“Furthermore,” he continued in his statement, “agriculture continues to bolster our nation’s economy by contributing a trade surplus year after year. This year, that surplus hit a record $42.7 billion.”

The Ag leader even predicts that next year will see similar economic gains as President Obama recently signed several new Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with South Korea, Panama and Columbia. Vilsack predicts that the FTAs will generate an additional $2.3 billion in overall U.S. exports and support some 20,000 jobs here at home.

“U.S. agriculture continues to be a bright spot in America’s economy and a driving force behind export growth, job creation, and our nation’s competitiveness, underscored by the increasing demand for U.S. food and agriculture around the world. For the first full fiscal year, China was the lead export market for farm products, buying almost $20 billion of goods such as soybeans, cotton, tree nuts and hides. There is no doubt that the Asia Pacific region recognizes the United States as a reliable supplier of the highest-quality food and agricultural products, and that’s the message I will take to our trading partners when I travel next week to Vietnam and China to help expand markets and remove barriers to trade for U.S. farm products. Partnerships with growing markets like those in Vietnam and China are integral to the strength of the U.S. economy in the decades ahead,” said Vilsack.

With a strong export economy, many American farmers and ranchers reap higher incomes. According to the Ag Secretary, the trickle-down economic effect that stems from higher farm incomes is integral to the economy as a whole. This means more small business opportunities and more jobs for those willing to package, ship, and market agricultural products, he said.