WASHINGTON –The US Department of Agriculture raised its fiscal 2012 agricultural exports forecast to $134.5 billion, up $3.5 billion from the February forecast, $2.9 billion below final fiscal 2011 exports.

USDA’s forecast for livestock, poultry, and dairy is up $400 million to a record $29.6 billion. Increased exports of dairy, poultry, pork and variety meats are driving the increase, according to the agency. Declines in other animal products were offset by gains in dairy, poultry, pork and variety meats, USDA said.

The forecast for dairy-product exports advanced $300 million on stronger global demand and larger supplies. Exports of poultry products are forecast to rise over $250 million, on higher sales of both broiler meat and other poultry products. Pork exports are forecast at nearly $100 million as higher volumes more than offset a slight decline in unit values. Also, increasing pork shipments to East Asia and North America are supported by a relatively weak dollar and competitive prices. USDA forecasts beef and pork variety meat shipments will increase by $100 million on robust prices.

Overall, the trade balance for 2012 is a surplus of $27 billion, still lower than the record $43 billion in 2011, according to USDA. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said American agriculture will remain a bright spot the nation's economy in the months to come.

"These figures indicate how demand for the American brand of agriculture continues to soar worldwide, supporting good jobs for Americans across a variety of industries such as transportation, renewable energy, manufacturing, food services, and on-farm employment," Vilsack said. "And as American agriculture continues to achieve a nearly unparalleled level of productivity, this success story will continue, helping to strengthen an American economy that's built to last."