The U.S. is facing a record-large agricultural trade deficit in 2024. Betty Resnick, an economist at the American Farm Bureau Federation, says the deficit has deepened significantly in the last two years.

"The trade deficit for fiscal year 2024 is now forecasted at $32 billion, which is almost double the record set last year," Resnick said. "Historically, the U.S. has always had agricultural trade surpluses, but this would be the fourth time in only six years that the U.S. has had an agricultural trade deficit. So, this is approaching a new normal status."

Resnick says there are many challenges contributing to the ag trade shortage.

"Declining commodity prices, a strong U.S. dollar, and increasing foreign competition hampering U.S. exports," Resnick said. "All at the same time, imports are continuing to grow as we consume more and more horticultural products, including fresh fruits and vegetables, and alcoholic beverages from our trading partners."

However, Resnick says there are things the administration and Congress can do to improve the situation.

"Fighting for better market access for U.S. agricultural exports, boosting domestic specialty crop production, by bringing relief to farmers facing labor shortages through ag labor reforms and tweaks to the H2A Program, and also promoting U.S. exports through market promotion and increasing funding to programs like MAP and FMP through the farm bill," Resnick said. "So, there's several policy levers that can be used here."

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