U.S. Agriculture's Trade Balance
Agriculture’s Trade Balance Tops All U.S. Trade
Agriculture leads all U.S. product groupings with
the largest trade surplus at $23 billion in fiscal
year 2009—almost triple the next largest category
(transportation items: vehicles, aircraft and
vessels), which has a trade surplus.
Agriculture is one of only four categories with a
U.S. trade surplus, whereas seven categories have
trade deficits. This trade surplus for agriculture
has increased more than 500 percent since 2006 and
is forecast to remain above $20 billion in Fiscal
Agriculture has enjoyed a trade surplus for 47
years because U.S. producers have met both growing
domestic demand for food and biofuels as well as
increasing demand from fast-growing, developing
nations. While U.S. agricultural imports have risen
during the past several years, growth in U.S.
agricultural exports has been even more impressive.
Soaring shipments to developing nations such as
Mexico and China have contributed to export growth,
as well as steadily growing exports to top markets
in developed countries such as Canada and Japan.
Leading the growth in agriculture’s trade surplus
are grains and feeds with a $19 billion surplus,
followed by oilseeds at $16 billion and livestock,
poultry and dairy products at $8 billion. Although
the United States is a net importer of horticultural
products, the trade deficit has fallen slightly
during the past few years. The United
States is a net importer of sugar and tropical
- The total trade deficit displayed in this bar graph
comprises 98.5 percent of exports & imports
($528 billion of the $534 billion deficit) with
only $8 billion unaccounted.
- Product categories were derived from U.S.
International Trade Commission designated
groupings, with some combining for simplicity.
- Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HST) codes are available upon request for each
of the above designated groups.
- Data source is the Global Trade Atlas (GTA)
and, for agriculture, U.S. Bureau of Census.