“Many farmers in the Southeast are planting indigo as a cash crop alternative to tobacco.” (Image courtesy of Sarah Bellos)
Blue jeans are a classic symbol of American fashion, but did you ever wonder how your blue jeans got their color?
Synthetic indigo dyes are used to give jeans their hue, but that was not always the case. Only two countries, China and Germany, currently manufacture the dyes that are used to color jeans, with China producing 90 percent.
Synthetic indigo is derived from coal tar and toxic chemicals that are fused together under conditions so extreme that making it in the United States is cost prohibitive, due to strict environmental and safety regulations. Read more »
Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 saw the United States once again make significant gains in the international trade as USDA expanded opportunities for American producers overseas. In FY14 American farmers and ranchers exported a record $152.5 billion of food and agricultural goods to consumers worldwide, an $11.6 billion increase over FY13’s figures.
USDA plays a key role in fostering American agricultural exports by opening new markets for our producers and ensuring their products meet foreign requirements for import. As a result of these efforts, U.S. agricultural exports now drive overall U.S. economic growth by supporting nearly 1 million American jobs on and off the farm. These trade efforts also contribute to a strong rural economy, which is critical to the overall economic health of the United States. Read more »
China’s imports of agricultural products have surged in recent years, with the United States a key supplier. A recent ERS report examines China’s emergence as a major agricultural importer.
This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.
China is often noted for its dominant export presence in the world market. The ubiquitous “Made in China” label, found on everything from pens to smart phones has made China’s export prowess acutely visible and at times overshadowed the other side of the country’s trade relationship with the world. But in recent years, China’s potential as a significant market has drawn increasing attention.
A new Economic Research Service (ERS) report examines China’s emergence as a major importer of agricultural products over the past decade. Between 2000 and 2013, China’s agricultural imports grew from US$ 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 »
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 »
China’s dairy industry has seen the benefits of U.S.-grown alfalfa hay thanks to the Cochran Fellowship Program. (Photo credit: USDA-NRCS)
China’s growing middle class and rising demand for high-quality food products have led to a boom in the country’s dairy sector. With the help of USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) and the Cochran Fellowship Program, U.S. alfalfa hay producers have been able to capitalize on this expanding dairy market.
More than 10 years ago, FAS recognized an opportunity in China’s dairy sector and used the Cochran Fellowship Program to educate south China dairy professionals about the U.S. dairy industry. Between 2005 and 2007, four delegations of dairy farm managers, veterinarians, college professors, industry association leaders, government officials, and dairy processors participated in dairy training programs. Once they returned to China, the fellows conducted feeding trials through FAS’ Quality Samples Program, learning how Chinese farmers could use U.S. alfalfa hay to help increase milk yield, improve cows’ health, and boost farmers’ revenue. Read more »
Curtis Millsap works in the Chinese High Tunnel on his southwestern Missouri farm. NRCS photo.
You can get just about anything you want at Millsap Farms, including an education about market farming.
Curtis Millsap estimates that he, his family and a crew of interns feed about 200 families on 2.5 acres of his 20-acre farm near Springfield, Mo. While another seven acres of the farm sometimes includes sheep, poultry and cattle, it’s the vegetable operation that supports Millsap, his wife Sarah and their nine young children.
Millsap uses two greenhouses and three seasonal high tunnels to grow produce year-round. Read more »