Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns has announced record U.S. agricultural export forecasts for fiscal years 2006 and 2007, with horticulture products, corn and soybeans accounting for most of the expansion.

Exports are expected to reach a record $68 billion in fiscal 2006, eclipsing the old record of $62.5 billion set in fiscal year 2005. For fiscal year 2007, USDA forecasts U.S. agricultural exports will reach a record of $72 billion, $4 billion above this year.

"These export numbers clearly illustrate the importance of opening and maintaining export markets for U.S. agricultural products," Johanns said. "Growing sales boost farm income and create close to a million jobs, benefiting the entire American economy."

Building on momentum from 2006, export gains in 2007 are expected to be broad based. Fresh and processed fruit, vegetables and tree nuts account for about 40 percent of the horticultural export growth in 2007, with gains spread across many products.

Foreign demand for corn remains strong with the amount used for ethanol production continuing to grow. Reduced South American shipments and rising foreign demand led by China should increase U.S. soybean shipments.

Beef exports are forecast to rise largely due to the resumption of sales to Japan.

Trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) have had a huge impact on U.S. agricultural exports. In 2005, U.S. agricultural exports to both Canada and Mexico totaled $19.6 billion. They are forecast to reach $23.7 billion by 2007, accounting for one-third of all U.S. agricultural exports.

Imports for fiscal year 2007 are forecast at $68.5 billion, up $4 billion from the 2006 estimate of $64.5 billion. This makes for a $3.5 billion trade surplus for both 2006 and 2007. The largest import gains are forecast for fresh fruits, vegetables and wines.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service, the Foreign Agricultural Service and the World Agricultural Outlook Board release agricultural trade forecasts quarterly. The summary and full report of USDA's Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Exports may be accessed from the ERS Web site at http://www.ers.usda.gov or the FAS Web site at http://www.fas.usda.gov. The next quarterly report will be issued in November 2006.