Market News & Headlines >> Ag Exports Drive rise in U.S. GDP Growth

A surge in U.S. exports, especially agricultural exports, was the primary driver behind the stronger-than-expected third quarter economic growth reported by the Commerce Department last Friday. 

The U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) grew at a rate of 2.9% in the third quarter, up from an anemic rate of 1.4% in the second quarter and above the average estimate of 2.5% from financial analysts surveyed by the Wall Street Journal ahead of Friday’s report. U.S. exports grew by 10% during the July-September quarter, the highest rate since 2013, with agricultural exports, especially soybeans, contributing disproportionately to the gains. 

“Although a strong U.S. dollar and lower commodity prices have created headwinds for America's farmers and ranchers, this report demonstrates their ability to remain resilient and to seize opportunities to sell U.S. food, fiber and fuel to markets around the world, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said on Friday. 

Census Bureau export data for the first two months of the July-September quarter showed the value of soybean exports was $2.883 billion, up 216% from $912.4 million a year earlier. Corn exports for the same period were valued at $2.062 billion, up 24.5% from $1.656 billion a year earlier. 

Earlier in October, USDA said U.S. grain exports for fiscal year 2016, which also ended Sept. 30, were the strongest in 35 years. More than 132 million metric tons of U.S. grains were inspected and weighed for export during the fiscal year, an increase of 5.7% over the 125.3 million metric tons inspected and weighed during fiscal 2015.