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Category: Trade

2015 Agricultural Outlook Forum Preview: International Trade

USDA is committed to addressing the challenges of international trade, and providing solutions.  As we look forward to USDA’s annual Agricultural Outlook Forum, Feb. 19-20, 2015, in Arlington, Virginia, speakers and attendees will have the opportunity to discuss relevant issues on a wide range of international as well as domestic topics.

We live in a world where domestic agriculture and international trade are inseparable.  We can’t talk about one without discussing the other. In 2014, American ag exports soared to a record $152.5 billion, and accounted for 20% of U.S. agriculture income.

Trade and foreign market access affect not only rural economies, but the overall economic health of nations – including ours. In that spirit, I’m happy to welcome Phil Hogan, the European Commissioner of Agriculture and Rural Development, to the 2015 Agricultural Outlook Forum.  He will join our own Secretary Tom Vilsack during the plenary session for a discussion that promises to be insightful. Read more »

U.S. Softwood Exports Making Headway in Thailand

A delegation of Thai lumber company executives (including Opas Panitchewakul, Pracha Thawornjira, Jaroonsak Cheewatammanon, Khomwit Boonthamrongkit and Wasant Sonchaiwanich) tours the Mauvila Timber distribution warehouse in Loxly, Ala., with Lane Merchant (left), the company’s general manager.

A delegation of Thai lumber company executives (including Opas Panitchewakul, Pracha Thawornjira, Jaroonsak Cheewatammanon, Khomwit Boonthamrongkit and Wasant Sonchaiwanich) tours the Mauvila Timber distribution warehouse in Loxly, Ala., with Lane Merchant (left), the company’s general manager.

The pine forests of Georgia and the Pacific Northwest are a far cry from the crowded streets of Bangkok, where several shipments of U.S. softwood products are headed thanks to a collaborative effort by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), the Southern Forest Products Association and the Softwood Export Council.

In June 2014, executives from five Thai lumber companies visited the United States under the auspices of FAS’s Cochran Fellowship Program. Thanks to the knowledge they gained and the relationships they forged with the U.S. softwood industry during their visit, several participants subsequently made first-time purchases of U.S. softwood. These initial purchases are a big step for U.S. softwood producers to make headway into the $58 million market in Thailand. Read more »

USDA Keeps Dairy Exports Flowing to Morocco

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and its sister agencies work to keep markets open to U.S. products.  Recently, an interagency team resolved an issue with Morocco, keeping a $126 million market open for American butter, cheese and other dairy products.

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and its sister agencies work to keep markets open to U.S. products. Recently, an interagency team resolved an issue with Morocco, keeping a $126 million market open for American butter, cheese and other dairy products.

U.S. agricultural exports continue to be a bright spot for America’s economy, worth a record $152.5 billion in fiscal year 2014.  That’s why USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and its sister agencies work so hard to keep these export markets open.  So in 2011, when Morocco requested that USDA use a new dairy export certificate that we could not endorse, we launched into action.  Our goal was to protect an export market worth $126 million annually while preserving our close relationship with a valued trading partner.

Morocco is the 13th largest export market for our dairy products, and U.S. dairy exports are the fastest growing export category to that country.  U.S. companies export many dairy commodities to Morocco, such as butter, cheese and skim milk powder, as well as dairy ingredients such as milk protein and whey protein products. Read more »

Partnering to Improve Market Data in Brazil

The MIOA members also toured the local wholesale market, Centrais de Abastecimento do Distrito Federal S.A (CEASA-DF), in Brasilia, Brazil. Dr. Luis Palmer, Chief of the International Reports Section of AMS Fruit and Vegetable Programs Market News (second from right with blue shirt) tours the market with MIOA members. Photo Courtesy of Francisco Stuckert, CONAB.

The MIOA members also toured the local wholesale market, Centrais de Abastecimento do Distrito Federal S.A (CEASA-DF), in Brasilia, Brazil. Dr. Luis Palmer, Chief of the International Reports Section of AMS Fruit and Vegetable Programs Market News (second from right with blue shirt) tours the market with MIOA members. Photo Courtesy of Francisco Stuckert, CONAB.

Quality data is paramount when it comes to helping markets reach their full potential. This is especially true in the agriculture industry where businesses are always searching for reliable data that can help them make important decisions like what to produce or how much to buy. I recently joined a team of USDA employees from my agency — the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) — and the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) that traveled to Brazil to share how we collect and disseminate key market data to help buyers and sellers make informed decisions.

Our trip to Brazil presented several opportunities to increase transparency in the inter-connected global marketplace. The primary purpose of the trip to Brasilia was to participate in the Regular Meeting of the Market Information for the Organization of the Americas (MIOA), which brings together a network of 33 member countries to collect, process, analyze, and disseminate information relative to markets and agricultural commodities. Read more »

The Importance of Farm Broadcasting in Reaching America’s 3.2 Million Farmers

NASS Associate Administrator Renee Picanso visits with Mike Adams of AgriTalk for an in-studio interview to help reach farmers and ranchers during the 2012 Census of Agriculture. Working with farm broadcasters like Adams helps NASS deliver vital information and statistics to America’s 3.2 million agricultural producers.

NASS Associate Administrator Renee Picanso visits with Mike Adams of AgriTalk for an in-studio interview to help reach farmers and ranchers during the 2012 Census of Agriculture. Working with farm broadcasters like Adams helps NASS deliver vital information and statistics to America’s 3.2 million agricultural producers.

Growing up on a small crop and hog farm in Perry County, Illinois, I have memories as a child listening to the radio with my father or uncle to hear the latest agriculture news. As farmers, they relied on and trusted receiving weather, farm, and market updates from the local radio station, WDQN. Some days my father would nod in agreement liking what he heard on the radio and other days my uncle would shake his head and turn the volume down. But the important thing was they always tuned in and listened.

As a child, I never guessed that I would grow up to be on the receiving end of interviews to report the crop, livestock, and agriculture census numbers that we listened for.  Having worked for USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) for 30 years, I have had the pleasure to talk with a great number of farm broadcasters. Folks who are dedicated to delivering the information and stories to farmers, ranchers, and rural America. Read more »

New Roads Provide a New Path to Prosperity in Senegal

Officials inaugurate the first renovated road funded by USDA in Laty, Senegal.

Officials inaugurate the first renovated road funded by USDA in Laty, Senegal.

We don’t spend much time thinking about roads in the United States. We worry about the traffic on them, but we don’t often consider the importance of the actual road itself. But to the Senegalese villages of Sindone, Yabon and Laty, a new road represents a path to a more prosperous life.

A new 7.5-mile stretch of road now runs through the three villages. It is the first renovated secondary road completed with the support of USDA’s Food for Progress program. I had the pleasure of attending the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new road in the village of Laty and seeing the difference it will make in the residents’ lives. The road will connect the villagers with markets where they can sell their crops, like mangoes, cashews and palm oil, to create new economic opportunities and expand food availability. Read more »