By partnering with Cacao Hunters, a specialty chocolate producer, Colombia’s indigenous Arhauco farmers have been able to sell their cacao at a premium price. USDA’s Cacao for Peace initiative will help replicate this success on a larger scale by creating new opportunities for Colombia’s 35,000 small-scale cacao farmers.
I’ve learned a lot about cacao lately. I learned that it’s pronounced ka-COW. I learned that it’s grown on trees in tropical climates and is the essential ingredient in chocolate, cocoa powder and cocoa butter. I learned that it’s not to be confused with coca, which is an illicit crop and the primary ingredient in cocaine.
I also learned that Colombia, despite having near-perfect growing conditions for the cacao tree, produces a small fraction of the world’s supply. So how might cacao help solidify peace in Colombia after a 52-year armed conflict and, at the same time, enhance the U.S.-Colombia relationship? I discovered how when I visited last month and learned more about USDA’s Cacao for Peace project. Read more »
Over the course of 2013, we’ve seen yet another banner year for U.S. agricultural exports. Exports of U.S. farm and ranch products reached a record $140.9 billion in 2013 and supported about a million U.S. jobs. In fact, compared to the previous five-year period from 2004-2008, U.S. agricultural exports from 2009-2013 increased by a total of nearly $230 billion.
All told, the past five years represent the strongest five-year period in our nation’s history for agricultural exports.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has focused on two key factors in recent years to help make this success possible. First, an unprecedented effort by USDA and our Federal partners to expand and grow markets around the world. Second, a commitment to make sure our farmers and ranchers have the tools to grow more, even in the face of uncertainty. Read more »
The Foreign Agricultural Service recently launched an online tool, called the Agricultural Tariff Tracker, to help exporters obtain information about tariff reductions resulting from world-wide free trade agreements.
The United States has free trade agreements with 20 countries around the world that expand export opportunities for U.S. food and agricultural producers. To help exporters obtain information about tariff reductions resulting from these FTAs, the Foreign Agricultural Service recently launched the Agricultural Tariff Tracker.
“The tracker was developed in response to requests from the agricultural export community for more detailed information about export opportunities resulting from FTAs,” said Jeff Jones, a senior policy advisor with FAS. “Though we’ve seen significant expansion in U.S. agricultural exports as a result of our trade agreements, there will be even more opportunities for U.S. agricultural exporters in the future as tariffs continue to fall throughout implementation,” he said. “Providing more information in a user-friendly format will allow exporters to maximize the potential of these agreements.” Read more »
Recently, both houses of Congress took action to support tens-of-thousands of American jobs by ratifying trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, as well as passing trade adjustment assistance to help train workers for the 21st century economy. And last week, the President signed them.
These agreements are a win for the American economy. For American agriculture, their passage will mean over $2.3 billion in additional exports, supporting nearly 20,000 jobs here at home for folks who package, ship, and market agricultural products. Read more »
The face of America – and of American agriculture – is changing. The number of farms in the United States has grown 4 percent and the operators of those farms have become more diverse in the past five years, according to results of USDA’s most recent Census of Agriculture. The 2007 Census counted nearly 30 percent more women as principal farm operators. The count of Hispanic operators grew by 10 percent, and the counts of American Indian, Asian and Black farm operators increased as well. In addition, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that the number of minority-owned businesses grew more than 45 percent between 2002 and 2007.
To reflect the diversity of our agricultural sector and business community, USDA is stepping up its efforts to continually supplement its seven Agricultural Trade Advisory Committees (ATACs) with new members, especially those who represent minorities, women, or persons with disabilities. We believe that people with different backgrounds and views will make the work of these committees, and thus of USDA, more effective. Read more »
USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service has 98 offices worldwide that work every day to maintain access of U.S. agricultural products.
Outside of farm country, many people don’t realize the importance of American agriculture to our overall economy. One in 12 American jobs is connected to agriculture, in all sorts of industries from picking and processing, to packing and shipping, to shelving at your local market. And despite hardships and setbacks this year due to extreme weather, America’s farm economy remains one of the brightest spots in our nation’s economy. Read more »