November 22, 2011


Wisconsin's farm exports up 24%


Farm products from Wisconsin to Canada, Mexico and overseas rose 24% through September compared with the same period in 2010, state officials said Friday (Nov 18).


Wisconsin exported a record-high US$2.1 billion worth of agricultural products in the nine-month period, making it 17th in the nation in the category, according to the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.


Through September, Wisconsin led the nation in exports of the following products: mixes and dough for the preparation of bakery products, bovine semen, canned sweet corn, yeast and baking powders, flaxseed and ginseng roots.


Wisconsin ranked second in the nation in exports of cheese, mink fur, beer and baby formula.


Cereal grains are the state's most valuable export product, including rice, wheat, oats, barley and corn. Those exports through September had a value of US$287 million.


The second-highest-valued Wisconsin agricultural export through September was beverages, including beer, non-alcoholic drinks and denatured ethyl alcohol. The value of those products was up 169% from a year earlier, according to state officials.


The numbers aren't always what they seem at first glance.


They're based on products exported from a state's shipping ports rather than products grown or made in a particular state. For example, under state agricultural export figures, Louisiana would be the top exporter of corn and most other farm commodities because of the Port of New Orleans and the Mississippi River, which handle millions of tonnes of products from all over the US.


"We all know that you don't see a lot of beautiful corn fields in Louisiana," said Jen Pino-Gallagher, economic development consultant for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Wisconsin exports plenty of goods produced in the state, and its export figures include products grown and made in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Michigan.


"That happens quite often with agricultural exports," Pino-Gallagher said.


Products are shipped from Wisconsin ports on the Mississippi River, the Port of Milwaukee, Green Bay and Superior. The top five markets for Wisconsin agricultural exports are Canada, Mexico, South Korea, China and Japan.


Altogether, Wisconsin shipped farm products to more than 140 countries in the first nine months of the year, according to state officials.


Baking ingredient products were among the top five categories, up 18% from a year earlier with a value of US$160 million. Those products included dough, pastry, bread mixes and malt extract.


Some of the food processors with baking ingredient exports include Kerry Ingredients in Beloit and Sturm Products in Waupaca County.


Recently ratified trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and South Korea have opened new markets, according to Pino-Gallagher.


Wisconsin's agricultural exports to South Korea were up 36% through September even in the absence of the trade agreement being finished, she said.


"It's our prediction that we will see even greater growth once the trade agreement is completely in place," she added.


One of every three acres of cropland in the nation is planted for export products. Every dollar of export product value creates another US$1.40 in supporting activities to process, package, finance and ship the goods, according to state officials.

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