Agricultural Economics Department


Date of this Version



Cornhusker Economics (June 2012)


Published by University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension, Institute of Agriculture & Natural Resources, Department of Agricultural Economics. Copyright © [2012] Board of Regents, University of Nebraska.


International trade has been of great importance for United States agriculture since the founding of the nation. Today, about 20 percent of agricultural production in the United States is exported, and the revenue from these exports is an important source of farm income. According to the Economic Research Service over half of U.S. wheat production is exported, as is almost 80 percent of U.S. cotton production. While agricultural exports are always greater than agricultural imports, U.S. consumers depend on imports for many commodities, notably such tropical goods as coffee, cocoa, bananas and other tropical fruits. The real values of U.S. agricultural exports and imports from 1967 to 2011 are shown in Figure 1 (on page 3). These values have been adjusted for inflation using the World Bank’s manufacture unit value index (base year = 2005), which is the same index the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) uses to deflate its commodity price series. The real values of both imports and exports have more than tripled since 1967.