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Exporting Northeast Ag, Timber and Fishing Products

Exports have an important role in the economics for agriculture, commercial fishing and forest products, including here in the Northeast. Without access to international markets, all U.S. producers would have to market all of their products domestically, which could create increased supplies and lower prices.

Here in the Northeast1, it is estimated that 14.5 percent of agricultural products, including raw and processed agricultural, commercial fishing and forest products, are exported, as compared to 35 percent nationally. In 2016, the exports of these products valued more than $9 billion.

Total Value Ag & Food Exports*


(2016) in millions

 Connecticut  $333
 Maine  $956
 Massachusetts  $1,138
 New Hampshire      $174
 New Jersey  $3,228
 New York  $2,805
 Rhode Island  $85 
 Total  $8,719 

*This represents the dollar value, including processing and marketing cost in addition to the agricultural sale values.
Source: USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, February 1, 2017.

What products are Northeast producers exporting?

The Northeast’s top agricultural exports are consumer-ready products, such as fruits, vegetables, processed and value-added food products, including dairy products. In 2016, the region exported more than $6.3 billion in agricultural products, with $3.9 billion of those products being consumer-ready. Nationally, more than half of agricultural exports are value-added, according to USDA.

The Northeast also exported more than $879 million in forest products, with New York and Maine leading the charge, exporting $398 million and $201 million respectively in 2016. The region is also a large exporter of various seafood varieties, shipping in excess of $1.3 billion in fish products overseas in 2016. Massachusetts is the frontrunner in this category with exports of scallops and other groundfish and Maine tops the list for lobster exports.

Some of the region’s other export specialties include soybeans, dairy products, and wine, beer and spirits from New York. Additionally, New Jersey is exporting large quantities of fresh fruit and fruit and vegetable juices.

Top Export Products by Farm Credit East State

State*  Agricultural Product 

2016 Export Value
in millions

Export Destination 
Connecticut  Consumer Agricultural Products**
Topping the list are prepared foods and fresh and processed vegetables
 $150  Canada, China
Maine Fish products
includes lobster
 $562  Canada, Japan, China, South Korea
Massachusetts  Fish products
includes lobster
 $496  Canada, EU, China, South Korea
New Hampshire  Forest products  $65  Canada, China, EU, Japan
New Jersey  Consumer Agricultural Products
Topping the list are prepared foods, fruit & vegetable juices and fresh fruit
 $1,493  Canada, Mexico, EU, United Arab Emirates, China
New York Consumer Agricultural Products
Topping the list are prepared foods, wine and beer, processed fruit and dairy products
 $1,521  Canada, EU, China, Mexico
Rhode Island Fish products
includes lobster
 $46  Canada, China, Japan

* Export data is attributed to the last location of handling or processing activity prior to export
**Includes fruits, vegetables, processed and value added food products
Source: USDA Foreign Agricultural Service

Northeast Export Markets

The top export markets for Northeast products are Canada and Mexico, mainly due to their proximity and ease of transporting product. Asia – China, Korea and Japan – is also a top importer of Northeast products, and Central America and Southeast Asia are growing markets.

Nationally, the leading importers of U.S. agricultural products are Canada and China, and the largest exporting state is California.

Important role of exports

As the middle class continues to grow in developing countries, so will discretionary spending, and the demand for animal, fruit and vegetable products. This demand and the supply response will impact world prices, which will impact all Northeast producers, even those that are not exporting.

This is confirmed by U.S. Apple Association senior vice president Diane Kurrle, who notes, “With more than 30 percent of the fresh apple crop destined for foreign shores, a robust export market is critical to the health of the industry. This is equally true for producers who grow exclusively for the domestic market as it stabilizes supply.”

The same economic principle reigns true for producers of other agricultural commodities, including commercial fishermen and forest products producers, and will continue to be an increasingly important factor. As the New York Wine & Grape Foundation states, “Exports are an important part of the state’s growing wine industry. With increasing competition, New York wineries need to expand regionally, and then statewide and into other states, in order to grow. Those wineries with a long-term outlook realize that exports can be an important part of their marketing strategy.”

1 Northeast includes all six New England states, New York and New Jersey

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