WASHINGTON – Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced the US agricultural industry posted in 2021 its highest annual export levels ever recorded, including a record $7.66 billion in US dairy exports.

The 2021 trade data published by the Department of Commerce on Tuesday revealed that US farm and food exports totaled $177 billion, which surpassed the 2020 total by 18% and the previous yearly record, set in 2014, by 14.6%.

Michael Dykes, DVM, president and chief executive officer of the International Dairy Foods Association, pointed out that US dairy exports outperformed the previous record of $7.08 billion, which also was set in 2014.

“Volume also set a new high, reaching 2.69 million metric tons to outpace the previous record of 2.44 million metric tons set in 2020,” Dykes said.

US agricultural exports in total accounted for 230.7 million metric tons of volume in 2021, which also was a record.

“Today’s export figures demonstrate how the United States is poised to become the world’s leading supplier of dairy products, thanks to the resilience and innovation of American dairy exporters and dairy foods companies,” Dykes said. “Consumers in the United States and around the world continue to demand more US dairy because we provide an assortment of delicious, nutritious, affordable and sustainable dairy products. From high-value whey to award-winning cheeses, from milk powders used to make life-saving products for children and adults to safe and nutritious ESL milk, US dairy is known throughout the world for quality and reliability.”

Dykes also said exporters throughout the dairy industry continue to run into problems created by the current state of the supply chain, making it difficult both to export even more dairy products and fulfill obligations to customers.

The IDFA, Dykes added, is urging the Biden administration to keep seeking out ways to remove bottlenecks, invest in the infrastructure and look at public-private solutions that would ease various supply chain problems.

“According to industry estimates, export delays and supply chain challenges have cost the dairy industry more than $1.5 billion in lost opportunities,” Dykes said. “Through the IDFA Supply Chain Task Force and Dairy Exports Working Group, IDFA members and partners continue to look for long-term solutions to help US dairy exports reach greater heights in the months and years ahead.”

The top 10 US export markets all experienced gains in 2021, with six of the 10 – China, Mexico, Canada, South Korea, the Philippines and Colombia – setting new records. Worldwide exports of many U.S. products, including dairy, soybeans, corn, beef, pork, distillers grains and pet food reached all-time highs.