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Distilled spirits driving import shifts

An ag economist says consumer trends through the pandemic could change which countries are top traders with the U.S.

Aleks Schaefer with Oklahoma State University tells Brownfield Americans like imported distilled spirits, a lot.

“Those imports have increased so much that Europe is expected to surpass Canada as our second-largest seller of agricultural commodities,” he says.

The USDA recently added distilled spirits among its Agricultural Products definition to align with the World Trade Organization.  The August World Ag Supply and Demand Report gave first insights into some of those numbers with more than $9 billion of the expected $16 billion increase in U.S. imports directly tied to distilled spirits.

Despite pandemic challenges, Schaefer says the U.S. economy is growing.

“We’ve grown by more than six percent in this last year which is huge compared to normal levels and we’re expected to grow by a further 4.2 percent in 2022,” he says.

U.S. ag exports are also continuing to set records which Schaefer says indicates markets are returning to some kind of normal.

Brownfield interviewed Schaefer during this week’s Michigan Ag Credit Conference.

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