Perfect storm creates record Ag trade deficit

Jun 21, 2024

Rising imports, strong dollar squeeze exports


The U.S. is poised to experience a historic agricultural trade deficit for the second consecutive year, a stark shift from its traditional position of surplus. This concerning trend, highlighted by the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), is attributed to several key challenges.

One major factor is the rising cost of labor in the U.S. agricultural sector. Compared to just 10% for overall agricultural production, labor costs for fruits and vegetables can reach a staggering 38.5%. This makes American produce less competitive against less expensive foreign options.

The strong U.S. dollar further complicates matters. A stronger dollar makes American exports pricier for foreign buyers. For instance, the Japanese yen's weakness against the dollar makes U.S. products less attractive to Japanese consumers.

Adding to the woes are outdated trade agreements. While the U.S. hasn't secured new trade deals since 2012, other countries have actively pursued agreements, giving them an advantage in the global market.

The AFBF emphasizes the urgency of addressing these issues. They urge policymakers to consider these factors and implement solutions to revitalize U.S. agricultural exports and support American farmers.

This looming record deficit marks a significant shift, as prior to 2019, the U.S. hadn't faced an agricultural trade deficit in at least five decades.

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