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U.S. ag brightens trade picture

By Staff | Dec 16, 2011

International trade is an important contributor to economic prosperity in Iowa. According to the Business Roundtable, about 2,500 Iowa companies export their products and services internationally.

The export of farm goods is an especially critical component of the trade picture. Beef and pork producers are key players in the state’s agricultural economy and both benefit greatly from international customers. The Global Trade Information Service has calculated that the Hawkeye State exports beef products to more than 21 countries and pork products to about 41.

Nationally, the sale of agricultural products abroad is an increasingly vital part of our nation’s trade story. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has released data on the agricultural component of U.S. exports for the 2011 fiscal year that underline that reality. The numbers are extremely encouraging.

According to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, farm exports in fiscal 2011 were $137.4 billion. That’s a record that exceeds the previous high year by $22.5 billion. The secretary said farm exports support 1.15 American jobs, which is immensely good news at a time when many sectors of the U.S. economy remain sluggish.

“Agriculture continues to bolster our nation’s economy by contributing a trade surplus year after year,” Vilsack said in a statement released by the USDA on Nov. 10. “This year, that surplus hit a record $42.9 billion.”

The productivity of American farmers and ranchers – as well as that of workers and manufacturers in a wide array or agriculture-related enterprises – is helping return the U.S. economy to robust health.

“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,” Vilsack said.

That’s exactly right. Farm News joins the secretary in applauding the role of agriculture in rebuilding America’s troubled economy. Prosperity will return. As it does, the superb performance of the farm sector will be a major part of the success story.

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