The value of U.S. agricultural exports in 2011 were a record $136.3 billion, according to trade data released Feb. 10 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The 2011 export total was up $20.5 billion, or 18%, from $115.8 billion in 2010, the previous record. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said in announcing the new trade report, “Exports of almost all major U.S. commodities rose in calendar year 2011, helping us reach President Obama’s goal of doubling all U.S. exports by the end of 2014. Grains were the biggest contributor to the overall record, reaching an all-time high of $37.7 billion, a $9.2 billion increase over 2010.” Mr. Vilsack noted dairy and pork exports also set records in 2011, reaching $4.8 billion and $6 billion, respectively.

“Another success story is U.S. beef exports,” Mr. Vilsack said. “Last year, the United States exported an all-time high of $5.4 billion worth of beef and beef products, surpassing the previous record by more than $1.6 billion. The volume of shipments also surpassed the 2003 levels, the last year before the detection of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (B.S.E.) in Washington state disrupted U.S. trade. The return to pre-2003 levels marks an important milestone in U.S.D.A.’s steadfast efforts

to open and expand inter-national markets. Despite this progress, restrictions continue to constrain ex-ports to many of our key markets, and we remain fully committed to breaking down those trade barriers.”
Mr. Vilsack said there was additional good news for the beef industry, pointing to the Jan. 24 decision by the United Arab Emirates that will liberalize imports of U.S. beef by eliminating age restrictions. Mr. Vilsack noted the U.A.E. was one of the largest markets for U.S. beef in the Middle East.