U.S. agricultural exports are expected to reach a record $101 billion for fiscal year 2008, up $10 billion from the November 2007 forecast and an unprecedented $19 billion above 2007.

The latest forecast builds off of consecutive year-to-year record exports since 2004, says U.S. agriculture secretary Ed Schafer.. Higher wheat, coarse grain and soybean prices account for just more than half of the revision since November.

"Based on current market conditions, bulk grains, oilseeds and cotton exports should rise $13.2 billion and account for 70 percent of the overall increase in export value for 2008. Higher prices account for most of this increase, but export volumes are also generally higher," Schafer says.

Coarse grains are expected to rise 10.9 million tons to 70 million tons and wheat should rise 2.3 million tons.

"We also see further increases in high-value product exports, such as fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, pork, beef, poultry meat and many grocery products," he says.

Exports of animal and horticultural products are forecast to rise a combined $3.5 billion in 2008 to record levels. With U.S. agricultural imports forecast at $76.5 billion, the United States expects a $24.5 billion trade surplus, Schafer says.

Foreign economic growth continues to support gains in consumer incomes and growth in the size of the middle class, particularly in the emerging markets.

These consumers tend to spend more on food as their incomes rise, including food imported from the United States. The weaker dollar makes U.S. products price competitive compared with other suppliers.

For more information and to view the USDA's "Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade" report, visit http://www.fas.usda.gov.

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