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national export initiative

Teaching the World to Eat Pecans

Do they like pecan pie in Turkey?  If they don’t now, they will soon if Randy Hudson has anything to say about it.

Hudson, his wife Mary Jo and their family operate Hudson Pecan Company in Ocilla, Ga.  Currently, they have their hopes focused on Turkey as a potential new market.  This past June, Scott Hudson, Randy’s son and company vice president, traveled with USDA’s Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agriculture Services, Michael Scuse, on a trade mission to Turkey. Their goal was to introduce the pecan to prospective buyers.

The June trade mission was part of President Obama’s National Export Initiative to double exports by 2014. Agriculture exports have remained on record-breaking pace since 2009.  The 2012 ag exports reached $135.8 billion, nearly tripling the values from 1999 ($48 billion).

Online Tool Helps Ag Exporters Track Trade Agreements

The United States has free trade agreements with 20 countries around the world that expand export opportunities for U.S. food and agricultural producers.  To help exporters obtain information about tariff reductions resulting from these FTAs, the Foreign Agricultural Service recently launched the Agricultural Tariff Tracker.

“The tracker was developed in response to requests from the agricultural export community for more detailed information about export opportunities resulting from FTAs,” said Jeff Jones, a senior policy advisor with FAS. “Though we’ve seen significant expansion in U.S. agricultural exports as a result of our trade agreements, there will be even more opportunities for U.S. agricultural exporters in the future as tariffs continue to fall throughout implementation,” he said. “Providing more information in a user-friendly format will allow exporters to maximize the potential of these agreements.”

FAS Helps Small Biz Find 'Out of This World' Success

When the astronauts aboard the International Space Station received a shipment of food recently, it included jam from a company called Stonewall Kitchen. Jonathan King and Jim Stott started selling their homemade jams from a folding table at a local farmers’ market in Maine in 1991. Today, their company sells specialty food products that are enjoyed all over the world, literally.

Stonewall Kitchen participates in the Food Export USA – Northeast Branded Program, which is funded by the Foreign Agricultural Service’s Market Access Program. MAP helps U.S. producers, exporters and trade organizations finance promotional activities for U.S. agricultural products. Over the years, the financial assistance from the program has helped this small business successfully export its jams, condiments, sauces and baking mixes to more than 40 countries across Europe, the Middle East, Central America and Southeast Asia.

Trade Mission Highlights Growing Prospects for Ag Products in Turkey

With its rapidly developing economy and expanding middle class, Turkey has become an important market for U.S. food and agricultural products over the past decade. It’s also the destination of the latest USDA agricultural trade mission from June 10-14 as Acting Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Michael Scuse leads a U.S. delegation to promote U.S. agricultural exports.

Representatives from six state departments of agriculture and 20 U.S. companies will attend. During the mission, the delegation will travel to Istanbul and Ankara to learn about market conditions and regulations to help U.S. companies develop export strategies for Turkey. They’ll visit retail locations and tour various facilities including a U.S. hardwood importer.

New Export Markets, New Opportunities for Rural America

Today, the American brand of agriculture is surging in popularity worldwide. Fiscal years 2009-2012 represent the strongest four years in history for agricultural trade, with U.S. agricultural product exports exceeding $478 billion over these four years. Overall, American agriculture supports 1 in 12 jobs in the United States and provides American consumers with 83 percent of the food we consume, while maintaining affordability and choice. And 2013 is off to a roaring start already – with agricultural exports on track to set a new record.

Just last week, USDA announced three initiatives that expand export opportunities and reduce barriers to trade. These announcements support President Obama’s National Export Initiative, which aims to double all U.S. exports by the end of 2014, as well as underscore USDA’s commitment to a strong and resilient agricultural economy, creating jobs and boosting economic growth nationwide.

Ambassadors of Cheese

For 80 years, Rogue Creamery has been passionate about the art of cheese making. This small company located in Oregon’s scenic Rogue River Valley produces a variety of handcrafted artisan cheeses using milk from its dairies. Its blue cheeses are considered “ambassadors” for the American Artisan and Farmstead cheese movements. Rogue Creamery credits the Foreign Agricultural Service’s (FAS) Market Access Program (MAP) and industry partners for helping the company expand sales of its award-winning cheeses.

U.S. Beef a Hit With Belgian Chefs

The European Union (EU) is a relatively new market for U.S. beef exports. It wasn’t until August 2009 when the United States began exporting high-quality beef (marbled with a high fat content) to the EU under a negotiated tariff rate quota for non-hormone treated beef.

Vermont Small Businesses Make Inroads in Canadian Market

Helping small- and medium-sized businesses export their products is a cornerstone of the President’s National Export Initiative (NEI), which aims to double U.S. exports by the end of 2014. The partnership between the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), non-profit U.S. agricultural trade organizations (called cooperators) and state regional trade groups (SRTGs) is essential to achieving that goal. The power of this partnership was clearly highlighted at the SIAL Canada trade show in Montreal, May 9-11, where the majority of the exhibitors at the USA Pavilion were small U.S. companies.

Among the SIAL Canada participants were the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM), and six Vermont food companies that produce products including artisan cheeses, croutons, jams, jellies, dips, sauces, specialty packaged maple syrups and premium spaghetti sauces. Although many of the companies are located less than an hour away from the Canadian border, few had previously considered exporting their products to Canada.

Secretary’s Column: Trade Deals Create Jobs

This week, Congress will begin to take a look at important jobs legislation: new trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama and trade adjustment assistance to help train workers for the 21st century economy.  These agreements will help create jobs and provide new income opportunities for our nation’s agricultural producers, small businesses, and rural communities.

Today, farm exports help support more than 1 million American jobs.  Passage of these three agreements will infuse the American economy with an additional $2.3 billion in farm exports, supporting 20,000 American jobs. In fact, our nation’s economic output is estimated to grow more under the Korea agreement alone than from our last nine trade agreements combined.

Vinamilk, Cochran Fellows Exemplify Thriving Agricultural Partnership Between U.S. and Vietnam

Last week, I was honored to lead USDA’s first-ever agricultural trade mission to Vietnam, which is quickly becoming one of the United State’s largest markets for agricultural exports.

While there,   I met with government and agricultural officials, witnessed trade relationships developing between U.S. and Vietnamese companies, and visited some of Vietnam’s most successful agricultural production and development sites.