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Category: International

Farmers Help Fight Food Waste by Donating Wholesome Food

Chris Pawelski, a fourth generation farmer, grows 51 acres of onions.  He donates excess onions that would otherwise go to waste to a food rescue organization and gets a reimbursement for his efforts.

Chris Pawelski, a fourth generation farmer, grows 51 acres of onions. He donates excess onions that would otherwise go to waste to a food rescue organization and gets a reimbursement for his efforts.

Sometimes Mother Nature and hard work come together to produce a bountiful harvest on the farm.  But what if the grocery store, distributor, or processor that the farmer sells to can’t handle any excess?  Or, what if a percentage of the crop turns out too big, too small, or oddly shaped and no one will buy it?  Organizations across the country are working with farmers to get this wholesome produce to people who need it.

Many farms may want to donate directly to a food bank, but are discouraged because they currently can’t claim a tax deduction for the donations. To help farms offset the costs of the labor required to harvest the crop and the packaging to transport it, many food banks and food recovery groups are able to assist the farmer with the “pick and pack out” (PPO) cost.  The PPO cost can be very beneficial to a farmer.  Chris Pawelski, a fourth generation onion farmer at Pawelski farms in Goshen, New York, donates his nutritious-but-undersized onions to City Harvest.  City Harvest is a food rescue organization in New York City that has been connecting good, surplus food with hungry New Yorkers since 1982.  The PPO cost that is paid to Pawelski by City Harvest in some years was the determining factor in keeping his farm from losing money. Read more »

California Producers See Big Opportunities in Trade

Deputy Under Secretary Alexis Taylor speaks with Mike Antle and his growers about exporting fresh produce.

Deputy Under Secretary Alexis Taylor speaks with Mike Antle and his growers about exporting fresh produce.

As the nation’s top producer and exporter of agricultural products, California has a lot to gain from the market-opening benefits of free trade agreements. The state’s exports not only help boost farm prices and income, they also support nearly 150,000 jobs both on the farm and in related industries such as food processing, transportation and manufacturing.

Last month, I was in central California to visit with the agricultural community about Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which would help expand U.S. access to the Asia-Pacific region. During a roundtable discussion with producers of a diverse array of commodities, I heard first-hand how trade benefits their businesses and their communities. Read more »

Career, Adventure Await Candidates for New APHIS Foreign Service Training Program

Conrad Estrada (third from left) with students from “Jóvenes en Acción” – Youth in Action. This program provides Mexican high school students the opportunity to experience the United States and develop their leadership skills.

Conrad Estrada (third from left) with students from “Jóvenes en Acción” – Youth in Action. This program provides Mexican high school students the opportunity to experience the United States and develop their leadership skills.

When Dr. Conrad Estrada became an APHIS Foreign Service Officer (FSO), his goal was to get out of his comfort zone, “not only in the geographic sense, but also on a personal and professional level.”

Six years later, the veterinarian admits he got both wishes. Trained in Peru, Estrada earned his master’s degree in preventive veterinary medicine at the University of California-Davis before joining the APHIS Foreign Service in 2009.  He is now the APHIS Foreign Service (FS) area director in Brasilia, Brazil, a job that “has offered me a great opportunity to expand my horizons, as well as increase my understanding of an integrated agricultural global market.” Read more »

Strengthening Produce Businesses, One Program at a Time

The packinghouse at West Coast Tomato LLC packinghouse in Palmetto, Fla. is nearly completely automated. Almost all of the tomatoes are sized and sorted mechanically. Thanks to meeting USDA audit requirements, the high-volume packer can confidently sell its tomatoes to restaurants, grocery stores, and re-packing companies. USDA Photo by Hakim Fobia.

The packinghouse at West Coast Tomato LLC packinghouse in Palmetto, Fla. is nearly completely automated. Almost all of the tomatoes are sized and sorted mechanically. Thanks to meeting USDA audit requirements, the high-volume packer can confidently sell its tomatoes to restaurants, grocery stores, and re-packing companies. USDA Photo by Hakim Fobia.

Successful businesses all seem to have a common bond – a commitment to quality, consistency, and integrity. During a recent trip with my colleagues, I saw firsthand the many ways that companies are turning to my agency – the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) – to provide these factors to pave their path to success.

Our first stop was the packinghouse at West Coast Tomato LLC in Palmetto, Fla. Thanks to meeting USDA audit requirements, the high-volume packer can confidently sell its tomatoes to restaurants, grocery stores, and re-packing companies. The fascinating thing about West Coast Tomato LLC is that the facility is nearly completely automated. Almost all of the tomatoes are sized and sorted mechanically. “Our use of technology has significantly decreased our re-packing,” says plant director John Darling. “As a result, we’re better equipped to meet buyer requirements.” Read more »

Expanding Trade Opportunities by Translating Documents into Spanish

Meat at a grocery store in Fairfax, Virginia. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

Meat at a grocery store in Fairfax, Virginia. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

When trading commodities on the market, it is critical that buyers and sellers across the supply chain speak the same trade language.  For meat products, large volume buyers – ranging from the federal government to schools, restaurants and hotels – reference the U.S. Institutional Meat Purchase Specifications (IMPS) when making their purchases.

For the first time, the IMPS and poultry and turkey trade descriptions, which are maintained by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), have been translated into Spanish.  These documents are part of a continued effort to expand the use of meat specifications used in the United States, Canada and Mexico for trade.  You can also find French translations of these documents through the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Read more »

China Emerging as a Key Market for Agricultural Products

China’s imports of agricultural products have surged in recent years, with the United States a key supplier. A recent ERS report examines China’s emergence as a major agricultural importer.

China’s imports of agricultural products have surged in recent years, with the United States a key supplier. A recent ERS report examines China’s emergence as a major agricultural importer.

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.

China is often noted for its dominant export presence in the world market. The ubiquitous “Made in China” label, found on everything from pens to smart phones has made China’s export prowess acutely visible and at times overshadowed the other side of the country’s trade relationship with the world. But in recent years, China’s potential as a significant market has drawn increasing attention.

A new Economic Research Service (ERS) report examines China’s emergence as a major importer of agricultural products over the past decade. Between 2000 and 2013, China’s agricultural imports grew from US$ 10 billion to about US$ 123 billion. The surge in imports has been driven by rising incomes and changing consumer preferences as well as growing demand for industrial raw materials. While bulk commodities such as soybeans and cotton remain predominant in China’s agricultural imports, consumer preferences and increased purchasing power have broadened the scope of these imports. As a result, imports of processed and consumer-oriented products like meats, dairy, wine, and nuts are increasingly showing up in Chinese markets. Read more »