Helping American farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses gain and maintain access to international markets is one of the most important roles of USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).
It is no surprise, therefore, that when a delegation from Virginia – led by Governor Bob McDonnell – recently traveled to Asia on a trade and economic development mission, FAS employees were quick to lend support.
While the trade mission, which included stops in Japan, Korea and China, wasn’t focused solely on agricultural trade, that topic was still discussed at length during these meetings. Additionally, Virginia’s Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore was a key member of the delegation.
Agricultural exports have become a major source of revenue for Virginia’s farmer, ranchers and the businesses that support them. Last year alone, the second-highest grossing year ever for agricultural exports from Virginia, the state exported $2.24 billion worth of agricultural products.
FAS posts in Tokyo, Shanghai, Beijing and Seoul all provided the delegation with critical assistance and guidance, including setting up meetings, providing administrative support, helping clear agricultural products through customs and more.
Ultimately, the trade mission was a success for Virginia’s agricultural exporters. Shortly after the trip, it was announced that Virginia-based Smithfield Foods reached a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with China’s Dandong Port Group to explore business opportunities in Northern China. An agreement was also reached with a Korean company to represent and distribute Virginia wines throughout Korea. The visit also helped assist negotiations regarding Virginia’s soybean exports to China and Japan.
While Virginia’s agricultural exporters certainly benefited from assistance provided by FAS, this type of support is not uncommon. In recent months, FAS has also provided support to delegations from Maryland and Iowa who embarked on similar trade and development missions to Asia.
To learn more about FAS’s international missions, visit our website.