Iowa exported $7.04 billion in agricultural products last year, up from $6.55 billion in 2009. Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey says the new numbers from the U.S.D.A. show Iowa ranks behind only California, which has consistently been the top ag exporter among the states.

“We haven’t always been the number two state, but we are very solidly number two not only in the amount of exports, but also in the amount of production of ag products. We produce somewhere around 24 billion dollars worth of ag products,” Northey said. Iowa’s leading agricultural export is soybeans and soybean products, at $3.3 billion.

Nearly one-quarter of all Iowa soybeans are shipped to China. “That’s 60% of our exports,” Northey said. “We send almost two billion dollars worth of soybeans to China.” Iowa’s other feed grain exports, including corn, accounted for $1.9 billion. Northey says international demand for Iowa’s meat products have also been growing for the past several years.

In 2010, Iowa exported $1.4 billion worth of live animals and meat – most of it pork. “We exported a billion dollars worth of pork last year. So, we continue to see that demand and hear of some rumors of the Chinese potentially entering into that pork market. Right now, our number one buyer of Iowa and U.S. pork is Japan,” Northey said.

Iowa’s top year was 2008, when the state reached $7.38 billion in ag exports. Northey says agriculture continues to produce while the U.S. trade deficit grows.

“The only area that has consistently been more exports than imports is agriculture and that has been true for, I think, in excess of 50 years,” Northey said. Total U.S. agricultural exports in 2010 reached $66.3-billion.