This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.
Agriculture is key to any nation’s success. American farmers continue to be more innovative and productive, providing affordable foods for the U.S. consumer while supporting a robust export market. Global agricultural trade is complex, constantly changing, with multi-layered requirements that have to be met before a grower can get his product into another country.
Although a general export certificate is issued for most agricultural products, some countries require certification based on scientific testing. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service provides the service and scientific expertise that helps American farmers export their products.
Science-based certification programs specifically geared toward helping producers expand their exports are administered by AMS’ Laboratory Approval and Testing Division (LATD). This team of chemists, microbiologists, biologists and physical scientists work together to oversee, develop and approve laboratories, methods and instruments. LATD also provides analytical testing services on a fee-for-service basis. These science based programs are designed by AMS to ensure that certified products meet the industry and export regulations.
Recently, several countries asked for verification that U.S. meat – beef, pork, and poultry products – are made from animals that are never fed beta agonists (e.g., ractopamine) and are free of beta agonist residues. By creating the Laboratory Approval Program for the Analysis of Beta Agonists, AMS is helping U.S. beef, pork, and poultry producers meet the new requirements.
The new program is a coordinated effort with USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), in addition to AMS’ Livestock, Poultry and Seed Program. The certification program establishes a system of approved labs to verify these products meet international requirements. With this certification program, opportunities are created for U.S. products in the European Union, Russia, China and others.
In addition to providing science based certification, USDA works with countries to establish export requirements. Recently, the Foreign Agricultural Service used AMS Pesticide Data Program (PDP) data to facilitate U.S. exports of specialty crops to Asia, specifically Taiwan. The statistically-reliable PDP data provides a valuable resource for setting export requirements. AMS scientists continue to work with many partners in the complex system of global agricultural exports, responding to emerging requirements set by the international community.