Top US ag negotiator: Farm exports likely down $1B

By CHUCK BARTELS

STUTTGART, Ark. (AP) — The nation's top agricultural negotiator says he expects farm exports to be down between $1 billion and $2 billion this year because of the drought.

Isi Siddiqui (sid-DEEK-ee) says the tighter supply of grains, and the resulting higher price of feed, is driving up beef and poultry costs. But he says it isn't to the point that international buyers are fleeing in droves.

The U.S. exported $137 billion in agricultural products last year. Siddiqui says 2013 sales are projected at $143 billion.

Siddiqui says one area where there's been no breakthrough is in resuming rice sales to Iraq, where the government stopped U.S. rice imports in 2010 over alleged quality issues. Siddiqui says talks are continuing.

Siddiqui spoke to The Associated Press while in Arkansas, the country's top rice-producing state.

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