USDA’s preliminary fiscal year 2023 trade forecast is marked by huge uncertainty, according to Chief Economist Seth Meyer.  USDA’s initial export forecast for 2023 is down roughly $2.5 billion dollars on lower volumes of beef, cotton, and sorghum, while imports are up $5 billion dollars for a new record.  But Meyer said the resulting $4 billion Ag trade deficit is not a sure bet.


“We’ve got a continued war in Ukraine. We’ve got tight agricultural markets. We’ve got, maybe, under-trend crops in a few places in the world.”


All of which, he noted, could push prices higher.  And then, Meyer pointed out, there are economic forces that could do just the opposite.


"I think we’ve got concerns but not certainty about an economic contraction. Certainly, some of the folks who forecast GDP have been ratcheting down their global GDP growth. That could impact demand.”  


Still, anything close to Meyer’s lower FY ’23 export forecast of $193.5 billion would be the second-largest on record, given the huge jump from FY ’21, before this year’s record.  But the problem Meyer continued, is the import forecast, which, if higher than exports, would produce a rare Ag trade deficit, where Ag has traditionally been one of few bright spots in the U.S. trade picture.


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