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USDA: Two straight months of Ag Trade Deficits

By: Jake Putnam
Published in Blog on  July 08, 2019

“This is first trade balance deficit for two months in a row since May 2016,” says Ag Trade Economist Kamron Daugherty

Washington—April, and May were two unusual months for U.S. agricultural trade. The Government put out its Ag trade numbers for the first eight months of this fiscal year, from October through May.

This past week there was plenty of 4th of July fireworks and this report had fireworks of their own according to Ag Trade Economist Kamron Daugherty but these fireworks are not of the celebratory type.

Back in April, the US posted an Ag trade deficit of $865 billion dollars These new numbers from May show a deficit of $250-billion dollars.

“This is first trade balance deficit for two months in a row since May 2016,” said Daugherty.

So far this fiscal year US Ag exports are running almost 7-percent below the same 8 months from a year ago at $92.4 billion dollars, imports are running 2.3 percent higher at just under $89 billion, “So we still have a significant Ag trade surplus,” said Daugherty.

The Ag surplus is $3.5 billion dollars, "that’s down 71-percent,” according to Daugherty. "and two straight months of an Ag deficit and that’s very uncommon.”

It’s too early to predict the trade deficit on Idaho Ag Exports come harvest time. Retaliatory tariffs affect $289 million worth of Idaho goods annually, according to the US Chamber of Commerce. Idaho is a big export state, in fact, one in six rows of potatoes and for every six gallons of milk produced in Idaho at least one gallon is exported.

Some producers say the trade wars could have negative impacts on their businesses later this year. So now the worry centers around June numbers and if they will show a third straight month of a trade deficit. In May, the fiscal deficit increased to $207.8 billion, up 41.5 percent from the same month last year. 

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