USDA Saves $4 Billion in Agricultural Exports

US - The US Department of Agriculture resolved dozens of export issues in 2012, freeing up an estimated $4 billion in US agricultural and forestry exports and protecting roughly 30,000 American jobs in the process, according to
calendar icon 5 February 2013
clock icon 5 minute read

The current forecasts show that the US will double its agricultural exports in 2014 according to the report.

Over the past year, the USDA has been working to eliminate barriers, open new markets, secure the release of US shipments detained at foreign ports, and ensure the safe movement of agricultural products in a manner consistent with science and international standards.

USDA Foreign Service officers, animal and plant health experts, and analysts monitor 162 markets around the world, in a bid to ensure a level playing field for US businesses and products.

The financial years of 2009 to 2012 generated more than $478 billion in agricultural exports, and 2013 agricultural exports remain on track to set new records, according to the USDA.

Overall, America’s agricultural sector is playing a key role in helping to achieve President Obama’s goal under the National Export Initiative of doubling exports by the end of 2014, the USDA said.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said: "As consumers around the world demand high-quality, American-grown products, USDA staff are monitoring more than 160 markets to ensure an open system of trade, free from unwarranted and unjustified barriers.

"Since 2009, USDA has acted to remove hundreds of unfair barriers to trade for American companies and is providing businesses with the resources they need to reach new markets. These efforts have resulted in the most successful period in the history for American agriculture and a boon for America’s rural economies and agriculture-related businesses."

Recently, the USDA announced that the Government of Japan — the fourth largest agricultural export market for the United States — agreed to expand access for US beef. Under these new terms, which came into effect on 1 February, Japan will now permit the import of beef from cattle less than 30 months of age, compared to the previous limit of 20 months, among other steps.

It is estimated that these changes will result in hundreds of millions of dollars in exports of US beef to Japan in the coming years.

The USDA sais that this agreement also goes a long way toward normalising trade with Japan by addressing long-standing restrictions that Japan introduced in response to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

The USDA said that it is also backing the US agricultural sector in marketing itself by assisting at more than 110 trade shows around the world last year. It said it has helped more than 1,000 US companies make more than $500 million in on-site sales. The majority of these were small and medium-sized businesses.

"While strong exports benefit farms and rural communities, agricultural trade is also a building block for a strong national economy," the USDA said.

Together with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) the USDA said it managed to successfully negotiate and resolve 150 animal and plant health issues involving US agricultural exports.

These included:

  • A six-month pilot programmeme with China’s animal and plant health authority, which established the resumption of log exports from Virginia and South Carolina, resulting in more than $1.5 million in US hardwood log exports to China from those States. The pilot programmeme was recently extended by China.
  • Securing Japanese market access for poultry and poultry products from New York, Ohio and South Dakota. In 2011, US poultry exports to Japan totalled $88 million.
  • Supporting the shipment of US cattle to new markets in 2012 by engaging foreign counterparts in preparation for exports and approving seven temporary export inspection facilities to supplement the agency’s permanent export facilities, reducing the distance cattle traveled before export and helping exporters meet shipping deadlines. Turkish and Russian purchases alone during fiscal year 2012 were valued at roughly $300 million.
  • Securing the release of 324 shipments of US agricultural products detained at foreign ports, valued at more than $41 million. For example, APHIS recently secured the release of seven grain shipments valued at $1.8 million from the port of Haiphong, Vietnam, and the agency continues to work with Vietnamese officials and the US grain industry on a permanent solution that will keep exports moving efficiently to that market.

There are approximately 170 Foreign Service officers in USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), staffing 98 offices covering 162 countries. US farmers, ranchers, trade associations and private companies depend on FAS staff to guide them through export of their products. FAS provides reports on hot market prospects and offers expertise when trade barriers arise. Over the past year, FAS has helped to knock down hundreds of barriers to trade. These included:

  • Negotiating the release of hundreds of detained shipments in dozens of countries, valued at well over $60 million, and ranging from soybean meal in Latvia, to white zinfandel in the EU, rice bran pellets in Norway, Massachusetts scallops in Spain, and US meat and poultry products in Taiwan.
  • Implementing trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, ensuring duty free access for a wide variety of US food and farm products expected to boost US agricultural exports by more than $2.3 billion per year when fully implemented, and support nearly 20,000 domestic jobs in the process.
  • Negotiating expanded access for US beef to the United Arab Emirates and El Salvador. In 2012, US beef and beef product exports to United Arab Emirates and El Salvador reached $47 million.
  • Engaging with China on a memorandum of understanding on soybean trade that prevented disruptions to over $12 billion of US exports. Maintained market access for US dairy—valued at over $432 million in 2012—by coordinating a draft dairy export certificate with the government of China.
  • Spearheading negotiations with Indonesia to exempt countries with food safety recognition, including the United States, from new restrictions on a variety of imported fruit and vegetables. US fresh fruit exports to Indonesia were $110 million in 2012.
  • Helping to negotiate the organic equivalence arrangement with the European Union. This partnership between the two largest organic-producers in the world will establish a strong foundation from which to promote organic agriculture, benefiting the growing organic industry and supporting jobs and businesses on a global scale.
  • Engaging with India on a measure likely to have halted US apple and pear exports valued at nearly $110 million annually.
  • Expanding market access for US potatoes in Asia, and positioned U.S exporters to take advantage of the US-Korea Trade Agreement that permits duty-free entry of up to 3,000 metric tons of US potatoes each year. Last year, the United States exported $7 million of fresh potatoes to Korea.
  • Working with Mexico to remove a 16 per cent tax on dehydrated US cranberries that had been erroneously applied for two months.

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