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U.S. Ag Products Make Their Mark in the Middle East

U.S. Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates Michael Corbin (second from left) and Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Administrator Sue Heinen cut a ceremonial ribbon during the opening ceremony for the USA pavilion at the 2013 Gulfood trade show as Consul General Rob Waller (far left) and the USA pavilion organizers exhibitors look on.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates Michael Corbin (second from left) and Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Administrator Sue Heinen cut a ceremonial ribbon during the opening ceremony for the USA pavilion at the 2013 Gulfood trade show as Consul General Rob Waller (far left) and the USA pavilion organizers exhibitors look on.

Recently, I traveled to the Middle East to meet with local and U.S. Embassy leaders to discuss agricultural strategy within the region. Towards the end of my two-week journey, I also had the opportunity to meet with U.S. agricultural companies, state regional trade groups and cooperators at the USDA-endorsed Gulfood trade show in Dubai.

The show is the Middle East’s largest food, drink, food service and hospitality equipment exhibition, drawing buyers from throughout the Middle East, Asia and Africa. The Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) helps U.S. companies market their food and agricultural products at international trade shows through market development programs such as the Market Access Program (MAP). Read more »

Innovative i-Tree Spreads Worldwide

This is the logo for i-Tree, a suite of urban analysis tools utilized by city foresters in the U.S. The U.S. Forest Service is releasing the latest i-Tree version 5.0 allows upgrading to rapidly assess urban trees and forests throughout Canada and Australia, two of the countries leading i-Tree’s international expansion.

This is the logo for i-Tree, a suite of urban analysis tools utilized by city foresters in the U.S. The U.S. Forest Service is releasing the latest i-Tree version 5.0 allows upgrading to rapidly assess urban trees and forests throughout Canada and Australia, two of the countries leading i-Tree’s international expansion.

When Dave Nowak of the U.S. Forest Service and Scott Maco of Davey Tree Expert Company began collaborating on the creation of a suite of urban forest analysis tools called i-Tree, they imagined that users would be mostly city foresters from the United States.

Inspired by users from 105 countries, the latest version, 5.0, is upgraded to rapidly assess urban trees and forests throughout Canada and Australia, two of the countries leading the free software’s international expansion. One of the major updates is the addition of a new web form that allows the use of smartphones and tablets. Read more »

Texas High Tunnels Boost Production Possibilities for Urban Farmers

Elvis d’Agrella visits with some of his regular weekly customers at the Conroe farmers market. Customers are welcome to fill small white buckets with an assortment of fruits and vegetables for an average cost of $4.

Elvis d’Agrella visits with some of his regular weekly customers at the Conroe farmers market. Customers are welcome to fill small white buckets with an assortment of fruits and vegetables for an average cost of $4.

‘Valley Girl’ and ‘Celebrity’ are just two of the sought-after tomato varieties sold at Elvis d’Agrella’s farmer’s market stand in the summer. And now his weekly customers can purchase those tomatoes well into the winter, because he and his wife, Pat, have constructed a seasonal high tunnel at their PEAS Farm outside Conroe, Tex.

“Our goal was to produce as much of the vegetables that you see here growing in the winter time that you would normally see growing in the summertime,” says Elvis. Read more »

FSA Loans Lend a Hand to California Farmer

Sam Pesina has grown his peach and sugar cane farm with the help of FSA loans.

Sam Pesina has grown his peach and sugar cane farm with the help of FSA loans.

Family adversity brought Sam Pesina back home to his family’s Fresno County, Calif., farm.  But it was the love of farming that kept him.

“When my dad got bone marrow cancer, there was never any question that I would return home,” said Pesina. “My dad wouldn’t have trusted anyone else [to run the farm].” So he packed his bags, glanced back at the 12 years he spent in Hawaii working in finance and starting his own mortgage brokerage company, and headed back to Orange Cove to care for his father and the farm he grew up on. Read more »

It’s Not Small Potatoes for Them

An opportunity to reach a new market is a big deal for any company, but this is especially true when it comes to our nation’s 23 million small businesses. In their search to reach new markets, they not only compete against each other they also compete with larger establishments. To help them meet their goals, the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) offers some contracts exclusively for small businesses. This allows companies with less than 500 employees to compete against similar sized organizations to provide a service or product to the government. Small businesses are the glue that holds our economy together and AMS is committed to supporting them.

Our Commodity Procurement Staff (CPS) recently purchased 25 million pounds of fresh russet potatoes in one of our small business procurements. While reducing a potential surplus in the market caused by a nearly 9 percent increase in U.S. potato production from the previous year, the purchase also enabled small businesses to sell products to the USDA. These companies sent their products to food and nutrition programs like the National School Lunch Program and food banks. Read more »

Forest Service Recognizes United Nations’ International Day of Forests

The Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Washington state. (Robert Westover/U.S. Forest Service Photo)

The Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Washington state. (Robert Westover/U.S. Forest Service Photo)

Try going one full day without using a product derived from a tree.

You won’t be able to use a pencil or paper or sit on your couch or at a desk. You won’t be able to check the mail or drink coffee while reading the newspaper. Read more »