USDA  has forecast that the value of U.S. agricultural exports will rise $5.5 billion in fiscal 2011 to $113 billion, the second highest annual total on record behind 2008 due in large part to reduced grain export competition from the Black Sea Region.
"Much of the increase is due to increased grain and feed shipments resulting from sharply reduced competition from Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine," USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service says.
Grain and feed exports are forecast to rise by $4 billion in fiscal 2011, which begins Oct. 1, primarily due to sharply higher prices and volumes for wheat and corn  as well as increases in distillers’ dried grains exports.
USDA noted that shrinking exportable wheat supplies in the Black Sea Region and Canada provide opportunities for U.S. expansion in the Middle East and North Africa, while corn exports will benefit from reduced foreign supplies of feed-quality wheat and coarse grains.
Rice exports are also forecast to be up on a record U.S. crop and strong sales to Latin American and the Middle East.
The value of U.S. cotton exports is expected to rise by $1.2 billion in fiscal 2011 to $6.0 billion with export volume rising 22% to 3.3 million metric tons due to a larger U.S. crop and tight foreign cotton stocks.
U.S. livestock, poultry and dairy exports are seen rising $600 million with growth in meat, livestock and poultry outweighing a decline in dairy exports because of increased competition from Oceania and an expected decline in global prices.
Fiscal 2011 oilseed and product exports are projected to decline by $2.6 billion as a rebound in the South American soybean  crush and subsequent recovery in product exports will erode 2010 U.S. export gains in soymeal and soyoil.
Record U.S. agricultural exports to China are forecast with China surpassing Mexico to become the second largest U.S. market
U.S. agricultural imports are forecast at a record high $81.5 billion, but at $31.5 billion the U.S. agricultural trade surplus is expected to be the second largest ever.Editor’s note: Richard Brock, Corn & Soybean Digest's marketing editor, is president of Brock Associates, a farm market advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report.