Export Extravaganza

Feb 11, 2022

Strike up the band and roll out the bunting.

Because ag exports just had a banner year.

Celebrate (some) good times: The ag industry faced some major challenges in 2021. But according to the Commerce Department’s recent report, the industry does have at least one reason to celebrate—a record-breaking year for ag exports.

By the numbers: 2021 destroyed all records—up a whopping 18% from 2020. The final tally? A bank-busting $177B in exported ag goods from the U.S.

And who brought home the gold? Corn and beef, with 2021 exports rising 53% and 43% respectively.

North, south, eastbound and down: Mexico overtook Canada as America’s #2 foreign market, but China remained U.S. ag’s #1 customer, importing a record $33B in products.

But it’s not all pomp and circumstance. China remains a major destination for ag products, but a deeper look suggests they aren’t exactly keeping up their end of the bargain.

Refresher: The U.S. and China entered a trade deal in 2020 requiring that China buy an additional $200B (over 2017 levels) worth of U.S. goods by the end of 2021… including ag products.

And they didn’t even come close.

Rising commodity prices have “hidden” some of the shortfall, but data analysis estimates purchases of only 57% of the promised volume.

Soundbite: China fulfilling its the commitment would certainly be a boost for U.S. agriculture (especially soybeans), but as assistant United States Trade Representative Adam Hodge noted: We have engaged [China] on its shortfalls for months, but have not seen real signs towards making good on the purchase commitments.