The American brand of agriculture is surging in popularity worldwide. The last four years represent the strongest in history for agricultural trade, with U.S. agricultural exports exceeding $478 billion. This international success is critical to achieving one of USDA’s core missions – fostering economic opportunity and innovation that will continue to help American agriculture grow and thrive in a global economy.
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) plays a key role in this area by opening new markets for American producers. We enjoy a close working relationship and collaborate on many projects with our colleagues at USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). Through our export certification and verification programs, we create opportunities for American farmers and businesses to succeed by connecting them with foreign markets.
AMS issued 37 percent more dairy export certificates this year, thanks to new programs developed with countries that import U.S. dairy products. In 2012, AMS issued dairy export certificates for goods going to more than 100 different countries, supporting the export of nearly 3.3 billion pounds of dairy products valued at more than $4.1 billion. One company was able to meet the international demand for their popular blue cheeses after receiving a certificate to export raw milk cheese products to the European Union (EU). The certificate gave the creamery a huge boost, and its sales have quadrupled.
This year, we launched the Processed Eggs and Egg Products Export Verification program, which verifies that facilities handling further processed eggs and egg products are operating according to FDA Good Manufacturing Practices for sanitation and food safety. To date, AMS has received 26 applications and has certified 11 facilities to export products to Mexico and the EU.
Similarly, the AMS Poultry Export Verification Program helps U.S. poultry companies export their products to EU countries. Thanks to this program, one American turkey processor was able to export close to 300,000 pounds of product in 2013. The Animal Protein Verification Program was developed for customers looking for poultry products that are not fed animal products or by-products. In some nations, such as Saudi Arabia, this is a requirement for all poultry products. By participating in the program, one company exports close to 20 million pounds of products every year.
This year, Japan expanded access to U.S. beef by accepting bone-in and boneless beef from animals less than 30 months of age. This marked a historic transition from Japan’s previous policy to only accept beef from animals 20 months of age or less. Since the changes went into effect, the LT30 Age Verification QSA Program – which verifies the age of cattle – has grown by more than 20 percent. There are currently 72 companies approved to export beef to Japan. Additional changes in June opened the Japanese market for U.S. ground beef, and 9 companies are now approved to export ground beef to Japan.
We have an historic opportunity to continue building on these successes and to help our farmers and ranchers sell more products than ever before. While robust exports benefit farms and rural communities, agricultural trade is also an important building block to a strong national economy with good jobs and benefits all Americans. From helping individual farmers to international businesses, our mission at AMS is to support American agriculture by making sure the U.S. remains competitive in a global marketplace.