The U.S. balance of trade received a $4.24-billion shot in the arm courtesy of the red meat industry in 2010, according to statistics released by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Record-high export values for beef ($4.08 billion) and the second-highest total on record for pork ($4.78 billion) fueled the trade surplus.

“The U.S. agriculture sector not only is feeding much of the world, but it’s an important source of jobs and revenue for our country,” said Philip Seng, president and CEO of USMEF.

The U.S. beef industry exported 2.35 billion lbs. valued at $4.08 billion in 2010, increases of 19% in volume and 32% in value over 2009. Beef exports exceeded imports by 605.1 million pounds and $1.155 billion in value.

Similarly, U.S. pork exports increased 3% in volume to 4.23 billion lbs. and 10% in value to $4.78 billion vs. 2009 totals. Those exports exceeded imports by 3.4 billion lbs. and $3.58 billion in value.