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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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5 leading countries in the global crop and livestock exports

In this article, a spokesperson for the University of the Potomac looks at the leading countries in the global export of crops and livestock.

It is no surprise that the largest countries in the world are among the biggest producers of agricultural products.

However, for countries like China, India, and Brazil, much of its output is dedicated to feeding their population, which means a smaller amount is exported worldwide.

Yet, with the investments in agriculture technologies in the past decades, these countries are increasing their production capacities, allowing them to ship more agriproducts to the global market.

As some nations become global players in food export, other countries become heavily dependent on trade with those countries. However, when the exporting countries have a low democracy index, exchanging goods with them becomes a risky move.

A shift in the policies, laws and government in these low democratic-ranking countries would sprawl a food crisis among the nations that rely heavily on those exports.

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1. United States

For the longest time, the United States has been the world’s largest agricultural exporter.

The position is thanks to the technological advances in the past few decades and that the US has a 0.811 democracy index. This means that it is less risky for countries to rely on trade with the US.

In 2020, US agricultural exports were valued at $147.9 billion.

The US has a large assortment of agricultural products that exports, starting from corn (which they are the global export leader) to fruits, vegetables, and nuts.

In 2020, soybeans were the highest value exported goods for the United States. It reached an export value of $25.8 billion.

Corn and wheat are other high-value exports for the US, which accounted for $9.5 billion and $6.3 billion of total value agricultural exports.

Other highly exported agricultural goods in 2020 include:

  • Rice (1.3 million tons)
  • Chicken meat (3.5 million tons)
  • Sorghum (6.5 million tons)
  • Apples (808.1 thousand tons)
2. Netherlands

Though the Netherlands is a much smaller country than the US (it ranks as the sixth-smallest country in the EU), it has become the largest exporter of agricultural products.

In 2020, the total value of agricultural exports was $100.8 billion, increasing by $3.4 billion from the previous year.

Much of the Netherlands’ rise as a global agricultural exporter is attributed to its:

  • Rich soil;
  • Enormous investments in farming technology;
  • Ports being a central trade hub for Europe.

In 2020 Netherlands exported one-sixth of the world’s tomatoes and potatoes, with over 1.1 million tons and 2.1 million tons shipped worldwide.

In the same year, the Netherlands was the largest exporter of eggs (415.3 thousand tons) and onions (1.7 million tons).

Since less than one-third of the Netherlands’ exports account for the re-export of goods, the Netherlands now ranks as the world’s third-largest exporter of rapeseed (1.9 million tons), palm oil (1.2 million tons), avocados (375.6 thousand tons), and chilies and peppers (467.4 thousand tons).

3. Brazil

It is no surprise that one of the world’s largest Agri producers also leads in the export. In 2020, Brazil’s agricultural exports reached $85.1 billion, a 6% jump from the previous year.

In 2020 Brazil exported over 82.9 million tons of soybeans or about half of the global soybeans trade. It is also a lead exporter of coffee, accounting for 30% of global exports of coffee.

In 2020, its coffee export held a value of $4.9 billion. It also exported about 18% of the world’s corn, with $5.8 billion worth in trade.

In the same year, Brazil ranked as the second-largest exporter of rice (518.4 thousand tons) and the third-largest exporter of mangoes (243.4 million tons).

Yet, Brazil has a 0.599 democracy rank, which identifies its underdeveloped political culture as a risk factor for other nations that trade with Brazil.

4. China

Though most of China’s agricultural production goes to feeding its population, China continues to be among the largest agricultural exporters, with $67.2 billion worth of agricultural goods exported in 2020.

Food preparation materials and crude materials account for about one-fifth of their total export. This sector has a market value of some $10.2 billion.

In 2020, it exported about 5% of the globally traded rice, with over 2.2 million tons shipped worldwide.

Moreover, China is a notable exporter of fruits and vegetables, such as apples (1.1 million tons), pears (539.4 thousand tons), grapes (424.9 thousand tons), spinach (60.7 thousand tons), carrots (749.8 thousand tons), and leeks (70.2 thousand tons).

Though the world relies heavily on exports from China, its democracy index of 0.048 shows that its autocratic regime can be a considerable risk factor for other countries.

It means that with a slight shift in its policies and the lack of free speech to object to it, China’s political environment can hinder trade with other nations, thus creating a food crisis.

5. Germany

Germany, a world economic power, is also among the largest global agricultural exporters, with over $79.5 billion worth of agricultural exports in 2020.

In 2020, Germany ranked as the world’s largest exporter of cow milk, sugar beets, and hops. Together, they hold a market value of $1.1 billion.

In fact, over one-sixth of traded cow milk comes from Germany, while its sugar beet trade accounts for over two-thirds (37.8%) of the global export of sugar beets.

Furthermore, Germany is also the second-largest exporter of rye, exporting 265.2 thousand tons in 2020. This accounts for 11.8% of the total rye trade in the world.

After its EU companion France and the Netherlands, Germany ranks as the third-largest exporter of potatoes globally.

Lastly, over 1.9 million tons of potatoes were exported in 2020, about one-sixth of the total trade of potatoes.

Other articles on That’s Farming:

7 largest producing countries of agricultural commodities

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