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November 28, 2017   |   Diesel Technology Forum

Policy Insider

The Crop is In - Helping to Boost U.S. Exports

The latest innovations are now available to help farmers to their job quickly and more efficiently to help feed the world.

If you live near a farm, you may have noticed that the corn and soybean harvest is in. While the growing season may be over, this agricultural bounty is helping to feed a trade surplus with the rest of world. This trade surplus could not happen without the wide variety of agricultural equipment types to plant, cultivate and harvest crops and the trucks, trains and ships that deliver these goods to markets overseas. And this work could not be done without diesel technology and the latest advancements are helping to get the job done quickly.

According to the latest agricultural trade statistics compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. farmers helped sustain a $1.2 billion trade surplus in September – the latest month for which data is available.

September 2017

Value of Agricultural Trade







Trade Surplus




For 2016, U.S agricultural exports reached almost $130 billion helping to generate a $20 billion surplus in trade with the rest of the world. Compared to this time last year, agricultural exports are up almost 9 percent while imports are only up  by 5 percent, signaling that the trade surplus will likely continue.

It takes an enormous variety of equipment types to plant, cultivate and harvest these crops and the majority of agricultural equipment is powered by diesel technology. The latest advancements in autonomy and telemetry have been deployed in agricultural equipment allowing farmers to operate equipment precisely helping to save fuel and reduce operating expenses. In fact, autonomous driving technology is already at work on farms across the country.

The U.S. agricultural trade surplus and export boom could not occur if farmers cannot get their crops to markets overseas. It takes a fleet of heavy-duty trucks, trains, barges and ocean going vessels to fulfill these overseas orders. The fleet of these vehicles and equipment is powered by diesel technology.  The latest advances in clean diesel technology are now available in the large engines that power these trucks, trains and vessels helping to reduce emissions for nearby communities. Other advanced technologies are available to help reduce fuel use and lower operational expenses. As an example, one rail operator in Tacoma, WA is using stop-start technology found on modern passenger cars to save about 20 million gallons of fuel each year.

While the U.S. trade imbalance has received a lot of attention lately, America’s farmers are helping to feed the world and generate trade surplus. Diesel technology is a necessary technology to cultivate these crops and bring them to market. The latest innovations are now available to help farmers to their job quickly and more efficiently to help feed the world.



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Ezra Finkin
Director, Policy

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