The U.S. Department of Agriculture has released its final tally for agricultural exports in fiscal year 2013, showing a new record of $140.9 billion.
"American agriculture achieved record exports once again in fiscal year 2013, and the period 2009-2013 stands as the strongest five-year period for agricultural exports in our nation's history," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "In fact, compared to the previous five-year period from 2004-2008, U.S. agricultural exports from 2009-2013 increased by a total of more than $230 billion - and the average volume of bulk commodities exported increased by nearly 4 million tons per year during that same period.
"We need to remain focused on keeping up the incredible momentum we've seen over the past five years," said Vilsack, who focused on the importance of putting through a new Farm Bill. "First and foremost, Congress needs to pass a new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill to continue the trade promotion programs that helped American agriculture achieve these results," he said. "These trade promotion efforts return $35 in economic benefits for every dollar invested - a great value for producers who gain access to additional market opportunities abroad, as well as rural communities that depend on a solid agriculture sector to create and support jobs."
A new Farm Bill, said Vilsack, would complement historic work by the Obama Administration to break down barriers to U.S. products and achieve new agreements to expand exports. "An effort that continues today as we work toward new agreements with the European Union and a number of Asian nations," he said. "With record agricultural exports supporting about one million American jobs, we can't afford to lose the incredible momentum of recent years - and that's why we need Congress to pass a new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill as soon as possible."