Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

U.S. Foods and Beverages Attract Crowds at Seoul Food and Hotel Korea Trade Show, Demonstrating Korean Interest and Demand

By Janet Nuzum, Associate Administrator for USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service

I am writing this post from my hotel room in Korea, because I want to share with you some of my experiences on my first day here at the Seoul Food and Hotel Korea Trade Show. As the associate administrator for USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, I am here in Ilsan, northwest of Seoul, for several reasons. Among the most important is to meet face-to-face with exhibitors and business representatives who are here to sell American agricultural and food products, as well as Korean importers, food processors, and industry leaders converging at this event, the biggest trade-only food show in South Korea. Up to 1,800 exhibitors are here in this huge, 49,000-square-foot exhibition space. More than 35,000 visitors are expected.

May 12, was the first day of this year’s show and I was privileged to represent the United States in the opening ceremonies.  I joined Minister Chang, the Korean Minister for Food, Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries (MIFAFF), as a dozen or so dignitaries cut the ribbons signifying the official opening of this year’s show. As Minister Chang prepared to depart the show, he and I had a moment to chat informally.  I was impressed by his warmth and sincerity as we both re-affirmed the interests of MIFAFF and USDA in working together cooperatively on areas of mutual interest and concern.

I then turned my attention to the USA Pavilion, which featured 36 exhibitors, representing a truly diverse range of U.S. food and beverage products including American meat products, fruits, cheese and a variety of other products. Last year, 30 U.S. exhibitors left the show with expected sales of $8.9 million in sales over the ensuing 12 months. This year, they hope to sell even more U.S. food and beverage products.  Even if the contacts made here don’t lead immediately to sales contracts, several exhibitors told me that it is nevertheless important for them to be here, to be visible with the trade and showcase their products.  Building a market presence is sometimes a long process, and participation in these types of trade shows introduces foreign buyers and consumers more quickly and effectively to the attributes and advantages of American products.  The exhibits not only showcase the U.S. products, but also demonstrate ways to use and serve the products, whether American style or adapted to Korean style.  Even the non-edible give-aways, such as the carrying bags with egg-head caricatures on them given out by the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council, are a visual reminder of the likeability of American agricultural products.

Korea is already a very important trade partner for the United States. It is the third largest economy in Asia and the world’s 15th largest economy. This country is an economic powerhouse. My presence here emphasizes how strongly the United States values its long, strategic partnership with Korea, which began 60 years ago. As I meet with Korean officials, buyers, and traders, I have the opportunity to reinforce that partnership.

Looking back on the response of visitors to the food and beverages displayed at the USA Pavilion, I am optimistic that the demand for U.S. agricultural products is strong and our reputation as a reliable supplier of safe, wholesome food and agricultural products is excellent. Our FAS staff here in Korea in partnership with U.S. cooperators, NASDA, the state and regional trade groups SUSTA and Food Export-Midwest, as well as innovative and forward-looking businesses, have done an outstanding job of showcasing American food agricultural products here. 

FAS Associate Administrator Janet Nuzum shakes hands with Korea’s Minister for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Chang Tae-Pyong. FAS Associate Administrator Janet Nuzum shakes hands with Korea’s Minister for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Chang Tae-Pyong.

WOW! Western Oklahoma Wireless

Like many of you, I spend a lot of time on my Blackberry and computer both at work and home. I use this access for business, for play, and a host of other applications that I can’t imagine living without. Read more »

KEEP THEM COMING! USDA NATIONAL FARMERS MARKET DIRECTORY EXTENDS COUNTING FOR 2010 THROUGH JUNE 4!

 The USDA National Farmers Market Directory, affectionately called the “farmers market census” has extended its deadline for receiving information about the country’s farmers markets through June 4.  In 2009, the USDA counted over 5,200 operational farmers markets in the country. Thanks to the diligence of dedicated market managers, state Departments of Agriculture, state farmers market associations and others, the USDA has already heard from several hundred new markets, indicating that the farmers market industry is continuing to thrive in 2010.

Farmers market managers, state Departments of Agriculture, state farmers market associations, and other farmers market operators can continue to list their markets at the 2010 USDA Farmers Market Directory Website.

“[The USDA National Farmers Market Directory]” is a snapshot of what is happening in farmers markets, and demonstrates how the industry is growing and expanding,” wrote Rayne Pegg, the Administrator of the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) (the USDA agency that maintains the Directory) in a recent open letter to market managers.  “[The Directory] illustrates where the markets are, how big they are, how often they operate and other valuable information for policy makers, researchers, advocates, government officials, media and consumers.”

The official results of the USDA 2010 National Farmers Market Directory will be released later this summer and include data about farmers markets that have registered with the Directory up until June 4. In addition to knowing where and when farmers markets are operating, the National Farmers Market Directory also lists what federal nutrition assistance nutrition programs (like SNAP, WIC, SFMNP) are accepted at which farmers markets.  This is a critical way to map how farmers markets are making fresh, healthy, local food more accessible to more Americans.

The bell has rung and farmers market season has now begun! (from L to R): Chef Jose Andres, Vice President of Operations Partner with Stir Food Group Ralph Rosenberg, Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, Farmfresh Director Ann Yonkers, and Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Administrator Rayne Pegg open the Fresh Farm Market on Vermont Avenue near the White House. The bell has rung and farmers market season has now begun! (from L to R): Chef Jose Andres, Vice President of Operations Partner with Stir Food Group Ralph Rosenberg, Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, Farmfresh Director Ann Yonkers, and Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Administrator Rayne Pegg open the Fresh Farm Market on Vermont Avenue near the White House.

Apple Capital of Wisconsin, Gays Mills, Begins Move With USDA Support

By Kelly Edwards, USDA Rural Development, Wisconsin

The Village of Gays Mills lies in a valley among the steeply chiseled bluffs of the region known as the Driftless Area of Southwest Wisconsin, along the banks of the Kickapoo River. The people are known for growing apples and holding the Annual Apple Festival.

The small village of 625, nearly flooded off the map twice in the past few years.

Normally the river runs its course but in 1978 the Kickapoo flooded, reaching record levels of almost 20 feet. All was quiet until August, 2007. Extensive rain in the areas upstream from Gays Mills caused flash flooding and overnight the town filled with water. Homes and businesses filled with water and many people lost everything. The river crested just below the record level of 1978, and 75 homes were damaged.

Then in June 2008 Gays Mills was dealt another blow. This time, the river broke its previous record and crested at 20.1 feet, seven feet above the flood stage level. During both the 2007 and 2008 floods, the water on Main Street submerged cars.

In October 2008, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) asked residents and businesses to relocate to a new site. About 150 of the village’s 230 houses lie in the flood plain.

The planned layout of the new development outside the flood area calls for village offices and a library, along with space for a farmer’s market. Local businesses that move are expected to retain 41 jobs, and new businesses are expected to create 18 jobs within the first year. The relocation project also includes the construction of 10 townhouses and 34 single family homes for the residents.

USDA is a partner in the effort to help local residents.  In 2009 Rural Development awarded nearly $100,000 in a Rural Business Enterprise Grant to help businesses move. In addition, USDA Rural Development awarded the Redevelopment Authority a $1,081,500 Community Facilities Loan for the relocation/construction of a new Village Community Center in the Central Business District. The community center will house the village offices, library, a meeting room, office for the Commercial District Manager and facilities for a farmer’s market.

USDA also awarded two Community Facilities Disaster Assistance Grants to the town. A $67,100 grant will be used to buy a previously owned pumper truck for the Fire Department, replacing a truck that is almost 40 years old. The second grant of $35,200, will help to purchase a new one-ton pick-up truck with plow to assist with snow removal, and a new trailer mounted 4-inch pump for use at the wastewater treatment plant and to help with water removal from properties during high water events.

Other Federal and State agencies have also pitched in. In March of 2010, a grant of $4.31 million was awarded by the Economic Development Administration to prepare a strategy for relocating the Village’s commercial district outside of the floodplain. Also in March, the Village received a $640,000 grant through the Community Development Block Grant-Emergency Assistance Program (CDBG-EAP) from the Wisconsin Department of Commerce (Commerce) to help with relocation costs.

More construction is expected in Gays Mills over the summer.

The downtown of Gays Mills was flooded when the local river jumped its banks.The downtown of Gays Mills was flooded when the local river jumped its banks.

Flooding of Gays Mills shown from the air. Flooding of Gays Mills shown from the air.

Gays Mills, the Apple Capital of Wisconsin.Gays Mills, the Apple Capital of Wisconsin

Birds Sing the NRCS Song at Gully Branch Tree Farm, Georgia

By Suzanne Pender, NRCS

On a tour of Gully Branch Tree Farm, in Bleckley, Georgia, NRCS leaders and partners witnessed first-hand the benefits of the new Forestry Incentives Initiative of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Through conservation activities including woodland management, prescribed burning, cultivation of native plants, and pond management, Earl and Wanda Barr have created habitat for diverse wildlife species on their land.

The Barrs have been extensively recognized for their work and won the 2010 Georgia Governor’s Agriculture Stewardship Award. As foresters and committed conservationists, the Barrs have provided educational programs at their farm for over 7,000 students throughout the years, using the forest as a classroom.

NRCS Regional Assistant Chief Leonard Jordan, NRCS State Conservationist James E. Tillman, Sr. and partners from the local Soil and Water Conservation District, the Georgia Forestry Commission, the Wild Turkey Federation, and others toured the farm and saw conservation in action. Red cockaded woodpeckers followed our wagon in the early morning mist, as we viewed native plants as groundcover, a future silvopasture site, nesting habitat and wetland area.

At one moment in the middle of the forest, we all closed our eyes to fully appreciate the symphony of diverse bird songs. Their song of conservation was brought to life in one of the largest forestry states in the country. Forests are home to 900 species of wildlife and 3,600 species of plants filter water and air and provide thousands of products.

Foresters and Conservationists Earl and Wanda Barr take NRCS and conservation partners on a tour of Gully Branch Tree Farm, Georgia. Foresters and Conservationists Earl and Wanda Barr take NRCS and conservation partners on a tour of Gully Branch Tree Farm, Georgia.

Secretary Vilsack Meets Farmers, Tours Biofuel Facility and Discusses Recovery Act Business Support During Pennsylvania Visit

Friday, a beautiful spring day in Pennsylvania, it was my pleasure to welcome Secretary Vilsack and his wife Christy to Pennsylvania for a tour and rural discussion. We started the day at Middletown Biofuels for a facility tour along with Congressman Tim Holden and other local and state officials. Middletown Biofuels recently received over $17,000 from USDA for producing biodiesel fuel from soybean oil. The facility is located in the heart of Pennsylvania’s agricultural industry, providing ready access to soybean and other vegetable oil feedstocks.  We then traveled to the state capitol in Harrisburg where the Secretary announced that in Pennsylvania, the Recovery Act has guaranteed $35.6 million in business loans that are expected to save or create more than 450 jobs. In total, USDA has provided loan guarantees to 350 U.S. businesses in the last seven months that will create or save nearly 23,500 jobs. Read more »