Say what you want about the United States government, but for a data-head like me, the offices, departments, and bureaus that comprise the executive department offer a wealth of numbers, figures, and reports that make me positively giddy.
Beside the charts, tables, and figures, the data put out by the United States government lead can reveal new discoveries (at least for me).
Our case study for this post comes courtesy of the Department of Agriculture and its report which is the second outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade for the Fiscal Year 2013 (Link to the actual report, in PDF form, is here.).
You can view the report in all its total glory for yourself, but here are the items of interest I took from it. For those of you playing along at home, all the facts and figures I will be spouting from this point forward are from Fiscal Year 2012 (that would be from September 2011 to September 2012…I have no idea why the government can’t stick to a calendar year, but I guess that’s a thought for another post).
Agricultural products are one class of items where the United States has a surplus of trade. In other words, we ship out (export) more things of an agricultural nature than we ship in (import). In Fiscal Year 2012, the U.S. exported $135.8 billion worth of agricultural good while importing $103.4 billion.
So what are the big items that America exports to the world?
The number one item, according to the report, and this was a surprise to me, was soybeans. The United States exported $19.797 billion of the legume best known for being turned into tofu.
Second on the list was corn ($11.420 billion) followed by wheat ($8.353 billion).
An item I found of interest can be found under the heading “Livestock products”. Not sure why I should be surprised given the number of cattle in the Lower 48 (90.8 million head as of January 1, 2012), but I was surprised to see that a major export of the red-white-and-blue is “hide, skins, and furs” which racked up $2.764 billion in exports, which was more than rice ($1.988 billion) and unmanufactured tobacco ($1.052 billion). That’s a large amount of leather.
What countries are the largest receivers of American agricultural goods?
China takes the top spot as it paid $23.359 billion in exports, which comes out to 17.2%. A close second is our neighbor to the north, Canada, which took in $20.008 billion of our agri-goods. Mexico ranks third ($18.890 billion). Those three nations comprise 45.8% of the countries we export to.
Of note, and I will come back to it later, is the figure that India welcomed in $764 million of American agricultural products.
Looking at the other side of the ledger are imports. What are the biggest items, in terms of dollar value, that the United States ships or trucks in?
Those of you who need your daily jolt of java can be thanked for the fact that coffee beans (and other products) takes the top spot as America imports $7.789 billion of the stuff.
The silver medal goes to the fresh fruit category ($7.618 billion) and the bronze is awarded to fresh vegetables ($5.831 billion). I take this mean that American do in fact know how to eat healthy.
What are the Big Thee countries that the United States imports from?
Canada takes the top spot as the number one import partner as the country with the provinces sends us $20 billion worth of agri-stuff.
The European Union (yes, I realize they are not a country, but I’m only going with what the USDA has provided) sends us $16.6 billion and Mexico comes in third at $16.3 billion.
And know you know.
India (I told you I would come back to this) enjoys a large imbalance of trade with us when it comes to agricultural products. In Fiscal Year 2012, the United States imported $5.4 billion. That means that America imported in $4.636 billion (there’s your number for the day) more worth of agri-goods from India than they bought from us. Just for reference, the United States enjoys a surplus of $19.059 with China when it comes to agricultural items.
So what the heck is the United States buying from India? The USDA report has the answer. From page 11, it says…
From India, the chief imports include food thickeners (mucilages), spices, cashew nuts, and essential oils.
Over five billion dollars is a vast amount of thickeners, saffron, curry, and crunchy nuts.
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