From the tractor
by Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler
The state recently got some good news regarding agricultural exports. Exports were $3.1 billion in 2008, up 51 percent from the previous year. It also represents the first time that North Carolina’s ag exports ever topped $3 billion.
The numbers were compiled nationally by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service. North Carolina ranks 13th among all states for the federal fiscal year which covers Oct. 1, 2007, to Sept. 30, 2008.
In terms of exports, we led the country in tobacco, were third in poultry products and were fifth in cotton and peanut sales to other countries. Our top international customers were Japan, China, Canada, the Netherlands and Germany.
Based on the USDA numbers, tobacco exports were $573.6 million, animals and meat exports were $553.5 million, cotton and linters were $275.5 million, and peanuts were $23.5 million.
I am optimistic we will see these numbers continue to grow as the economy recovers globally and as the economies of developing countries grow. Our marketing specialists expect to see an increased demand for meat products as countries’ fortunes improve.
As many of you who follow this column know, I recently returned from a trade mission to China.
Based on our visit there, I would also expect we will see growing demand for North Carolina soybeans, cotton and tobacco. I don’t expect immediate results from this trade mission, but I do expect the visit to pay dividends through future sales.
North Carolina agriculture and agribusiness has a lot at stake with the export market as evidenced by the $3 billion in sales. We have the capacity to supply a greater amount of agricultural products to international customers and we must continue to push to open new areas of trade because other countries will certainly be looking to boost their exports.
I am pleased with these recent numbers, but want you to know we will be continuing to push forward on foreign trade.
North Carolina agricultural producers who are interested in international marketing opportunities should contact our Marketing Division at (919) 733-7887 or go to www.ncagr.gov/markets/international.