Amber waves of exports
There are (at least) two major forces affecting agriculture right now. First, China, India and other populous, developing nations need more food. Second, drought has destroyed crops in competitor countries such as Russia and Ukraine. Both of these forces, it turns out, are helping American farmers.
In the first eight months of 2010, U.S. agricultural exports increased 14 percent, to $69.8 billion, from the same period a year earlier, according to the most recent U.S. Agriculture Dept. data. Joseph Glauber, chief economist for the USDA, says farm exports in the year that began on Oct. 1 may top the 2008 record.
This cornucopia is providing an unexpected boost to President Barack Obama's drive to double exports by 2015. China's need for cotton, pork, corn, and soybeans will make it the second-biggest U.S. agricultural trading partner in 2011, the USDA estimates. Shipments of farm products to China will total $15 billion, compared with Canada's $16.8 billion and Mexico's $14.6 billion. Corn prices are up over 60 percent since June, while wheat as much as doubled.
Another good sentence from the article: Most small businesses "are mystified by all these reports about how wonderful the rural economy is. That's because they're selling in Greeley, Neb., and the farmer out there is selling in Beijing."
Photo credit: Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post.
| October 25, 2010; 11:30 AM ET
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