Despite challenges, Michigan food and agriculture exports boomed in 2020


LANSING, Mich. (WJMN) – Michigan’s agricultural exports in 2020 grew 18.7% from exports in 2019.

Exports totaled $2.16 billion, up from $1.82 billion in 2019.

“Through a once-in-a-century pandemic, Michigan’s resilient farmers and dynamic agricultural industry stepped up to continue feeding the U.S. and the world,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “Our agricultural exports topped $2.1 billion in 2020, a massive increase from 2019, despite the hardships and constantly changing circumstances brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. I am grateful for the sacrifices Michigan’s extraordinary farmers made to keep the rest of us going. Their hard work and grit feeds millions of families worldwide and supports thousands of jobs in rural communities across Michigan.”

Increases were seen in dairy products, soybeans, sugar beet byproducts and wheat byproducts. Top export markets continued to be Canada and Mexico due to the recently renewed United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Exports grew to South Korea and China which were in the third and fifth positions respectively. Michigan companies continue to develop and grow export markets worldwide.

“I think this really speaks to the strength, resilience, and global demand for Michigan’s high-quality foods,” said MDARD Director Gary McDowell. “Last year was a difficult time for people, communities, and businesses, so it’s reassuring when we receive positive news like this, especially for an industry that supports so many families and rural areas.” 

Processed food products topped exports at $365 million followed by soybean, sugar beet and wheat byproducts at $253 million. $208 million of cereals, baked goods and pasta, $193 million of soybeans and soybean meal and $180 million of dairy products were exported as well.

“Michigan’s food and agriculture export numbers haven’t been this high since 2014,” said Jamie Zmitko-Somers, director of MDARD’s Agriculture Development Division. “As we approached the summer and fall seasons, there were legitimate concerns about Michigan’s supply chain, but with almost no exceptions, it came through with remarkable growth. Across the state, foods were harvested, processed, and delivered right on time. This definitely played a role in the success of our exports.”

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD)’s International Marketing Program assists Michigan food and agricultural businesses in expanding their marketing efforts both domestically and internationally. Working with various partners and services providers, the International Marketing Program offers Michigan businesses a variety of programs and services, including one-on-one consultations, export education, export assistance, and market entry activities and programs. For more information, visit or email

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