Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack issued the following statement on the most recent U.S. Agricultural Trade Outlook Forecast for fiscal year 2010:

"Today's strong economic report is good news for communities across the country, not only because of the increasing opportunities for America's farmers and ranchers to sell their products overseas, but also because of the importance of agricultural exports to the American economy. With each $1 billion in exports supporting 8,000 to 9,000 jobs at home, efforts to increase trade are an important part of the Administration's effort to strengthen our economy here at home.

"The USDA has been working aggressively to improve opportunities for U.S. agricultural exports — including new offices abroad and a more constructive, effective dialogue on trade issues with growing market economies — helping to increase the trade surplus in agriculture, now forecast to reach $28 billion. Over the coming months, USDA will continue to push forward on these efforts as part of the President's National Export Initiative, increasing opportunities for farmers and ranchers and improving the job situation here in the United States."

Some of the highlights of the report include:

• U.S. farmers, ranchers and producers are poised to achieve $104.5 billion in sales — an $8 billion increase over last year and the second highest level in history.

• The trade surplus in agriculture is now forecast to reach $28 billion, the second highest ever achieved.

• The report comes on the heels of an historic six-month pace by U.S. agricultural exports, which shattered records with $59 billion in sales in the first half of the fiscal year and generated a 14 percent increase over the same period last year.

• U.S. agricultural exports to China grew by nearly $3 billion during the first half of the fiscal year to $10.6 billion, making China the United States' top market for this period. In total, exports to Asia have reached record highs, led by strong increases in China and Southeast Asia. Other outstanding country and regional customers include the European Union, Turkey, and North Africa.

The report can be seen at: http://www.fas.usda.gov/.

Full report: http://www.fas.usda.gov/cmp/outlook/2010/May-10/May2010_fullreport.pdf.