In January, the United States and Japan concluded nearly two years of negotiations to re-open the Japanese market to U.S. processed beef products. These efforts ensured that, for the first time since 2003, all products from U.S. cattle less than 30 months of age would be eligible for export to Japan. Japan is the United States’ largest beef export market, valued at nearly $1.6 billion in 2014.
In February, the FAS Office of Agricultural Affairs in Tokyo was understandably excited to learn that Perky Jerky, a Colorado-based company, was interested in bringing its beef jerky to FOODEX 2015, the largest food tradeshow in Asia drawing almost 3,000 exhibitors from 79 countries. The value of exhibiting at FOODEX is considerable, as over 75,000 trade professionals from Japan, North Asia, Southeast Asia, and around the world would attend the show. The only problem was that FOODEX was scheduled to begin in less than two weeks, and the beef jerky hadn’t even been produced yet. Bringing a new-to-market product to Japan in less than two weeks would be a daunting task under normal conditions, but late February was anything but normal as Japanese customs and quarantine officials were busy clearing an enormous volume of products for the nearly 2,300 other international exhibitors from 79 countries participating at FOODEX. Read more »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »