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.
USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), in collaboration with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), announced a program to certify further processed eggs and egg products for export, providing new opportunities for U.S. food exporters. AMS will certify a wide range of products containing eggs, including omelets, frozen egg patties, crepes, hard-boiled eggs, mayonnaise, and food containing egg extracts. The total market for U.S. exports of further processed eggs and egg products worldwide is estimated to be $500 million. This effort will allow producers to obtain verification and certification that may be required by importing countries, and it will provide a means for U.S. exporters to access previously untapped markets.
APHIS announced successful efforts of veterinary health personnel allowing them to expand export markets in Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia for U.S. day-old chicks and hatching eggs. In February, APHIS veterinary health personnel and their counterparts in Moscow developed export documentation that APHIS will issue for products shipped to the three countries. This market access for poultry commodities represents the first of nearly 40 new agreements related to live animals and animal products that USDA will work to negotiate with the Customs Union.
Additionally, APHIS highlighted the arrival of the first ever shipment of U.S. Anjou pears to China. In 2012, U.S. and Chinese officials reached an agreement to accept exports of pears grown in the two countries. This initial shipment of 6,615 boxes of U.S. pears puts China in place to become one of the top five export destinations for U.S.-grown pears within the next two seasons.
We have a historic opportunity to continue building on these successes to help our farmers and ranchers sell more homegrown products than ever before. And while strong exports benefit farms and rural communities, agricultural trade is also an important building block to a strong national economy that creates good jobs and benefits every American.