Ag Policy Blog

Farm Bureau: Ag Trade Deficit Likely to Increase

Jerry Hagstrom
By  Jerry Hagstrom , DTN Political Correspondent
A ship moving into to dock at the Port of Savannah, Ga. Agricultural exports are holding steady, but food imports continue to increase. A recent Farm Bureau report suggests that trend will likely continue. (DTN file photo by Chris Clayton)

The agricultural trade deficit -- the difference between ag imports and exports -- is likely to continue growing, the American Farm Bureau Federation's Market Intel service said in a report based on Economic Research Service data.

Economist Betty Resnick wrote that much of the deficit is due to increased imports of fruits and vegetables due to challenges the produce industry faces in the United States.

"Policy changes to stem rapidly increasing farm labor costs, increase exports by negotiating lower tariffs and better market access, and more international market promotion funding could help return the U.S. to agricultural trade surpluses," Resnick wrote.

An ERS report in May forecast U.S. agricultural exports for FY 2024 at $170.5 billion. ERS raised the level of imports to $202.5 billion. That would be a $32 billion trade imbalance.

AFBF Market Intel:…

ERS Trade Outlook:

Sens Marshall, Brown Press Administration Over Used Cooking Oil Imports From China.

Sens. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, on Thursday led a letter to Biden administration officials expressing concern about "the recent and dramatic increase in used cooking oil imports from China."

The letter was sent to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Agriculture Department, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR).

"Since 2020, in response to demand for renewable fuels, the U.S. has gone from importing less than 200 million pounds of UCO per year to importing over 3 billion pounds in 2023, with more than 50% of these imports coming from China," the senators stated in the letter. "As evidenced in recent news coverage, there is concern by some in the renewable fuels industry that large amounts of imported UCO may be a blend of UCO with virgin vegetable oils such as palm oil, which is directly linked to deforestation in Southeast Asia. This would constitute fraudulent value distortion of the commodity designed to take advantage of U.S. tax incentives in addition to Renewable Identification Number (RIN) fraud under the RFS. If true, this would have an especially punitive effect on U.S. agriculture, as imported UCO bears a lower carbon intensity score than domestically produced agricultural feedstocks, which incur punitive and unnecessary indirect land use change penalties in state and federal programs, as well as onerous verification and reporting requirements required of farmers to validate carbon-friendly practices."

The senators added, "Given the fact that USDA and EPA have a role in developing renewable fuels policy, including through the agencies' roles in helping the IRS and U.S. Treasury Department to create the guidance for tax credits for renewable fuels, you have a clear responsibility to advise the administration on these matters and help maintain the integrity of the entire clean fuels programs by ensuring American tax dollars are not subsidizing the import of counterfeit feedstocks. USTR and CBP also have a clear role in policing imports to ensure that foreign entities are not mislabeling their products when bringing them into the country."

-Senators' letter…

DTN Ag Policy Editor Chris Clayton contributed to this report.

Jerry Hagstrom can be reached at

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