Colorado ag exports drop in first quarter

Exports of agricultural products from Colorado decreased during the first quarter with declining sales of beef, dairy products and millet.

According to figures reported by the Colorado Department of Agriculture, the value of ag exports from the state during the first quarter of 2013 totalled $337.4 million. That’s a decrease of $9.4 million, or nearly 2.8 percent, from the first quarter of 2012.

By comparison, U.S. agricultural exports increased 6.1 percent from the prior year.

Exports of beef products, the largest export commodity from Colorado, decreased 3.9 percent.

Colorado beef exports to Mexico, the third largest beef export market for the state, decreased more than $19 million. Colorado and U.S. beef exporters also lost sales to Russia with the closure of its market.

At the same time, though, Colorado beef exports  to other markets increased: up 26 percent to Canada, 28 percent to Korea, 128 percent to Taiwan and 196 percent to Hong Kong.

“Increasing exports and creating a wide range of global markets for Colorado beef is critical for the long-term viability of our beef industry,” said John Salazar, state agriculture commission.

“Increased access to the Japanese market became effective in February, so we anticipate more exports to Japan this year,” Salazar said.

“Furthermore, it does not end with access. As we enter the Trans Pacific Partnership free trade agreement negotiations, agriculture must remain diligent in making sure agricultural issues are a key element of these trade agreements.”

In addition to declining beef exports, dairy product exports from Colorado dropped with the opening of a new cheese production facility in Northeast Colorado consuming milk previously processed for export.

Drought reduced millet exports from Colorado, but increased plantings should lead to a rebound in exports following the 2013 harvest.