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The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Nov. 30 forecast the value of U.S. agricultural exports in fiscal year 2011 at a record $126.5 billion, up a whopping $13.5 billion from the August projection and up $17.8 billion, or 16%, from $108.7 billion in fiscal 2009. The previous record value of U.S. exports at $114.9 billion was set in fiscal year 2008.

“Sharply higher unit values for leading export commodities account for most of the forecast increase in value,” the U.S.D.A. said in commentary accompanying the revised forecast.

The value of soybean exports was forecast up more than $5 billion from the August projection to a record $20.3 billion, due to higher unit values along with strong demand from key markets, especially China. The value of wheat exports was projected at $9.8 billion, up $1.7 billion from the August forecast and compared with $5.9 billion in fiscal 2010, with U.S. exports this year “expected to benefit from reduced export competition.” The value of U.S. corn exports in fiscal 2011 was projected at $12.3 billion, up $1.7 billion from the August outlook and compared with $9.1 billion in 2010. The value of livestock, dairy and poultry exports in fiscal 2011 was projected at $23 billion, up from $21.8 billion as the August forecast and compared with $21.5 billion in the previous year. The value of horticultural exports was projected at a record $24.3 billion, down from $24.5 billion as the August forecast but up from $22.6 billion in fiscal 2010.

The value of U.S. agricultural imports in fiscal 2011 was projected at a record $85.5 billion, up $4 billion from the August forecast and up $6.5 billion from 2010.

The U.S. balance of trade surplus for agricultural products in fiscal 2011 was projected at a record $41 billion, up $9.5 billion from the August outlook and compared with $29.7 billion in 2010 and the former record of $36 billion in 2008.