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Farm exports supported more than 1.1 million American jobs across entire economy.

May 10, 2018

3 Min Read
Trade plays vital role for U.S. farmers

Agricultural trade is critical for the U.S. farm sector and the American economy. In 2017, U.S. exports of food and farm products totaled $138.4 billion, up from $134.7 billion in 2016. Additionally, farm exports supported more than 1.1 million American jobs across the entire economy.

May is World Trade Month, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture marks the occasion by highlighting its success with and continued commitment to expanding trade and increasing rural prosperity through agricultural exports.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said, “America’s farmers, ranchers, foresters and producers feed, fuel and clothe our nation and the rest of the world. Since day 1, I’ve said I’m a grow-it-and-sell-it kind of guy, and I’m proud of the progress we make each day serving our customers, selling our products around the world and working to protect and preserve our agricultural interests.”

With 95% of the world’s consumers living outside U.S. borders, USDA’s work pursuing new and expanded trade is essential to removing barriers, helping America’s farmers and ranchers reach new customers and ensuring that U.S. products and producers are treated fairly.

“Since the day he took office as USDA’s first undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs, Ted McKinney has been circling the globe promoting U.S. agricultural products and engaging with foreign government counterparts to break down barriers to U.S. exports,” Perdue noted. “I said he’d be our ‘million-mile flyer,’ and he’s already getting close to hitting that mark. In just over six months on the job, he’s covered 10 countries -- from Europe to Asia to the Middle East to Latin America -- advancing our policy interests and promoting our products.”

USDA promotes trade in many ways. Through the Foreign Agricultural Service, USDA breaks down trade barriers, creates export opportunities and enforces and improves existing trade agreements to benefit U.S. agriculture. USDA’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service supports trade by keeping U.S. agriculture industries free from pests and diseases. The USDA Office of the Chief Economist provides economic and policy analysis in support of U.S. trade initiatives and produces dependable global supply and demand estimates. USDA’s Food Safety & Inspection Service protects the public’s health by ensuring the safety of food exports and imports and helping establish international food standards that protect the health of consumers and ensure fair trade practices. These are just a few examples of how USDA works every day to promote global trade for U.S. agriculture.

A 2017 study released by the U.S. Grains Council and the National Corn Growers Assn. quantified the critical support that exports of U.S. feed grains and co-products provide to the U.S. economy, including the direct and indirect economic benefits to farmers and rural communities. The study concluded that U.S. feed grain and grain product exports were worth $18.9 billion in 2015 and supported $55.5 billion in economic input. These exports were linked directly or indirectly to nearly 262,000 jobs.

Additionally, researchers concluded that every $1 of grain exports supported an additional $2.19 in business sales, and every job directly created by the export of grain and grain products supported an additional 4.7 jobs in the U.S.

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