U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns has announced an increase in the forecast for agricultural exports to a record $78 billion for fiscal year 2007.

"Projections show 2007 exports would be up $9.3 billion over last year, the second largest increase on record, and the fourth year of back-to-back records," said Johanns.

"Two-thirds of this increase is due to the grain and oilseed sectors. Several trends are driving the rise in export value and keeping U.S. competitiveness strong, such as demand for corn due to increased ethanol production, reduced competition for wheat, and only moderate growth in South American oilseed production."

"But this year's story is not just about bulk grains and oilseeds, because we are also expecting considerable growth and record sales for livestock and horticultural products. Livestock and poultry product exports are forecast to increase $1.2 billion, supported by higher meat volumes to many markets. Rising sales of processed products are driving a $1.3 billion increase in horticultural exports."

USDA's Economic Research Service, Foreign Agricultural Service and World Agricultural Outlook Board release agricultural trade forecasts quarterly. The summary and full report of USDA's "Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade" 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 on May 31, 2007.