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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 2014 represent the strongest six years in history for agricultural trade with U.S. agricultural product exports totaling $771.7 billion over six years. Agricultural exports last fiscal year reached $152.5 billion, the highest level on record. Agricultural trade now supports more than 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 2014, that surplus was $43.3 billion.

Over the past six years, USDA has helped to open and expand new markets for U.S. agricultural products, which creates jobs and fosters growth that is critically important for rural communities and our entire nation's economy. USDA continues to pursue strong new trade deals that are both free and fair and will help to expand exports, increase wages, and help farm and ranch businesses grow and create jobs across the country.

Opening New Markets for Farmers, Ranchers and Rural Businesses

  • Provided funding to help approximately 70 U.S. agricultural producer associations, 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 increase $35 for every additional market development dollar expended by government and industry.
  • Led more than 225 U.S. agribusinesses and more than 20 State Departments of Agriculture on agricultural trade missions to China, Colombia, Georgia, Indonesia, Iraq, Panama, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Turkey and Vietnam. Participating businesses reported on-the-spot and short- term follow-up sales of more than $94 million. That figure will continue to grow over the next several years as a direct result of the partnerships forged and contacts established during USDA trade missions.
  • Provided the opportunity for more than 6,000 U.S. companies and organizations - an average 67 percent of them small- and medium-sized businesses - to participate in USDA-endorsed trade shows in about 20 countries. The companies made over 87,000 business contacts and displayed nearly 33,000 new products in various markets on all continents. On-site sales totaled more than $1.3 billion and 12-month projected sales reported by exhibitors were estimated at more than $7.2 billion.
  • Worked with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Department of Commerce, Congress, and industry stakeholders to gain approval in 2012 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.
  • Helped farmers, ranchers, and rural businesses connect with new customers and markets abroad and bring new opportunity to rural America through the Administration's Made in Rural America Export and Investment Initiative.
  • Opened international market outlets for U.S. farmers and ranchers by successfully negotiating and issuing thousands of export certificates for food products valued at more than $800 million.

Removing Barriers to Trade

  • USDA works on behalf of agricultural exporters to resolve trade barriers related to animal and plant health concerns, technical requirements and tariffs. For example:
    1. Negotiated to remove restrictions to help farmers export U.S. chilled pork to Colombia, live swine to China, and cattle to Mexico.
    2. Worked with Mexican authorities USDA was able to remove procedural barriers that were restricting the movement of shell eggs intended for export to Mexico. This has resulted in an increase in U.S. egg exports by more than 300 percent.
    3. Negotiated expanded market access for U.S. beef in Japan, Mexico, Hong Kong, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Uruguay. Total U.S. beef and beef product exports reached a record $6.8 billion (1.2 billion tons) in fiscal year 2014.
    4. Reached an agreement with Chinese officials to allow all U.S. grown apples to gain access to the Chinese market in 2014. With this new agreement, the apple industry estimates that within two years, exports to China will reach 5 million bushels annually, a value of nearly $100 million per year.
  • In Fiscal Year 2014 alone, USDA resolved over 130 trade-related issues involving U.S. agricultural exports valued at $6.4 billion.
  • Obtained the release of over 273 individual shipments of U.S. agricultural products, worth more than $49 million, in 2014. Products ranged from California almonds in the European Union to hides and skins in Mexico, and meat and poultry in Taiwan.
  • Issued nearly 892,000 certificates to allow the export of American-raised animals and plant and animal products in 2014.
  • Alerted exporters to proposed changes in foreign import requirements 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. In 2014, USDA reviewed nearly 2,000 such measures and submitted comments to foreign governments on 261 measures.
  • Verified through voluntary, audit-based Export Verification (EV) programs that U.S. agricultural exports meet the requirements of foreign buyers and/or foreign governments. For example:
    1. In 2014, USDA implemented an export verification program that kept poultry products moving to Canada - an estimated $45 million market.
    2. In 2013, USDA negotiated with Japan for expanded access for U.S. beef and beef products to include all beef items produced from cattle less than 30 months of age. The updated EV program was fully implemented in January 2015.
    3. In 2013, USDA implemented a process verification program to support a Never-Fed-Beta Agonist claim when marketing and labeling U.S. beef and pork for domestic or international sale. This meets the requirements of major U.S. pork importers, including China, which imported nearly $500 million of U.S. pork and pork products in fiscal year 2014.
    4. In 2012, USDA established an EV Program to verify U.S. poultry exported to Saudi Arabia is meeting their requirement that poultry is not fed animal protein, animal fats, or animal by-products.
    5. Since 2009, USDA has helped approximately 400 U.S. beef companies ensure U.S. beef products meet the requirements of foreign countries.