US Dairy Trade
Dairy exports have far exceeded imports for 2012 to date, and the average trade surplus has averaged $236 mil./month for the first 7 months of 2012. Although the exports have been dropping in recent months, the net exports were still $170 mil. in July (the last month for which data is available). With exports representing about 14% of milk production, this has been a significant boost to the industry. Without the exports, the increases in milk production in the first half of 2012 over 2011 would have torpedoed the milk price much worse. This figure also shows that imports have changed very little in recent years, so imports are not undermining domestic prices. Economists often support free trade, while politicians do not. Exports of U.S. agricultural products are essential for the viability of American farmers. The trade surpluses in agriculture are among the biggest in the country, and are an important source of foreign exchange, especially since the country otherwise has a trade deficit.