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Agriculture is one of the brightest spots in our economy, and the American brand of agriculture is surging in popularity worldwide. Fiscal years 2009 to 2013 represent the strongest five years in history for agricultural trade with U.S. agricultural product exports totaling $619 billion over five years.

Agricultural exports last fiscal year reached $140.9 billion, the highest level on record, and supported nearly one million jobs here at home. Furthermore, agriculture continues to bolster our nation’s economy by contributing a trade surplus year after year. In fiscal year 2013, that surplus was $39.9 billion.

Opening New Markets for Farmers, Ranchers and Rural Businesses

  • Since 2009, USDA has helped approximately 70 U.S. agricultural producer organizations, each representing hundreds or thousands of producers, expand commercial export markets for their goods.
  • An independent study demonstrated that U.S. agricultural exports increased by $6.1 billion as a result of the increased joint investment in foreign market development by government and industry during the 2002-09 timeframe studied. Overall, U.S. agricultural exports have increased $35 for every additional market development dollar expended by government and industry.
  • Since 2009, USDA has led more than 150 U.S. agribusinesses on agricultural trade missions to China, Colombia, Georgia, Indonesia, Iraq, Panama, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, and Vietnam. These businesses reported on-the-spot and short- term follow-up sales of more than $54 million. That number will grow exponentially over the next several years as a direct result of the partnerships forged and contacts established during USDA trade missions.
  • Between 2009 and 2013, more than 5,000 U.S. companies and organizations—an average 67 percent of them small- and medium-sized businesses—participated in 150 USDA-endorsed trade shows in about 20 countries annually. The companies made over 72,500 business contacts and displayed nearly 35,300 new products in various markets on all continents. On-site sales totaled more than $927 million and 12-month projected sales reported by exhibitors were estimated at more than $5.7 billion.
  • USDA worked with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Department of Commerce, Congress, and industry stakeholders to gain approval for new trade agreements with Panama, Colombia, and South Korea. These agreements will result in an estimated $2.3 billion in additional agricultural trade each year and support nearly 20,000 domestic jobs.
  • Since 2009, the United States has also entered into free trade agreements with Jordan, Oman, and Peru. In addition, the U.S. has established organic equivalency agreements with Canada, the European Union, Japan, and South Korea.
  • In 2013, USDA, working closely with the U.S. potato industry, expanded market access for U.S. potatoes in the Philippines, Taiwan and South Korea. By removing these trade barriers, potato exports to these three markets rose 13 percent from the previous year, reaching nearly $21 million.
  • Through the Administration’s Made in Rural America Export and Investment Initiative, USDA is working to help farmers, ranchers, and rural businesses access federal export programs, connect with new customers and markets abroad, and bring new opportunity to rural America.

Removing Unfair Barriers to Trade

USDA works on behalf of agricultural exporters to resolve trade barriers related to animal and plant health concerns. In fiscal year 2013, USDA resolved 194 trade-related issues involving U.S. agricultural exports valued at $2.7 billion.

  • In 2013, USDA removed restrictions to help farmers export more American-grown grapes, peaches, and nectarines to Australia; dairy products, poultry, and pears to China; organic produce to Japan; and beef to Japan, Mexico, and Hong Kong.
  • In addition, USDA successfully obtained the release of over 280 individual shipments of U.S. agricultural products, worth more than $34 million.
  • Certifying exports is another important service provided by USDA to facilitate agricultural exports. Last year, USDA issued nearly 892,000 certificates to allow the export of American-raised animals and plant and animal products.
  • USDA alerts exporters to expected changes in foreign regulations through a comment process aimed at influencing the development of foreign regulations. This process is used to minimize negative impacts on U.S. exports, while keeping communication lines open.