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The Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Nov. 30 forecast the value of U.S. agricultural exports in fiscal year 2012 at $132 billion, down $5 billion from its previous projection (August) for the year and down $5.4 billion, or 4%, from a record $137.4 billion in fiscal year 2011. The 2012 forecast value still would be the second-highest on record.

The value of U.S. grain and feeds exports in fiscal 2012 was forecast at $35.4 billion, down $3.6 billion from the August projection and down $2.5 billion, or 7%, from $37.9 billion in fiscal 2011. The value of grain and feeds exports set a record at $38.3 billion in fiscal year 2008. The U.S.D.A. pointed to increased competition in world wheat and corn markets cutting into U.S. export volumes and lower unit values of wheat and corn as reasons for the lower export value forecast. The value of U.S. exports of oilseeds and oilseed products in fiscal 2012 was forecast at $26 billion, down $2.3 billion from the August projection and down $3.2 billion, or 11%, from a record $29.2 billion in fiscal 2011. The lower forecast compared with August was mostly due to a lower soybean export volume outlook.

In contrast, the value of U.S. livestock, poultry and dairy exports in the current fiscal year was forecast at $28 billion, up $900 million from the August forecast and up $0.7 billion, or 3%, from $27.3 billion in 2011. Forecast sales for all products in the category except dairy products were higher than in August. The value of U.S. horticultural exports in fiscal 2012 was forecast at a record $28 billion, unchanged from the August projection and up $22.1 billion, or 8%, from $25.9 billion in the previous year.

The U.S.D.A. forecast the value of U.S. agricultural imports in fiscal 2012 at a record $105.5 billion, up $0.5 billion from the August projection and up $11 billion, or 12%, from $94.5 billion in 2011, the previous record. Major imports include vegetable oils, sugar, coffee, rubber, nuts and fresh and processed fruit.

The U.S. agricultural balance of trade surplus in fiscal 2012 was forecast at $26.5 billion, down from $32 billion as the August forecast and down $16.4 billion, or 38%, from $42.9 billion in fiscal 2011.