USDA Undersecretary Edward Avalos visits an inspection site at the Chilean airport where commodities are evaluated before shipment to overseas markets. Here, he inspects fruit bound for U.S. market to ensure they are free from damaging pests.
Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting with US Department of Agriculture counterparts in both Chile and Peru. My travel to South America was an opportunity to discuss our most recent trade successes and how we can further build on this great relationship and momentum.
In Chile, I met with the Chilean Minister of Agriculture, Carlos Furche and Chilean Agriculture and Livestock Service (SAG) officials to discuss bilateral animal and plant health trade issues. US Ambassador to Chile, Michael Hammer, was also in attendance. To better understand their domestic processes and procedures for imports, I participated in a tour of a grocery store selling U.S. products including U.S. beef and visited a feedlot and a dairy farm as well as other agricultural sites near Santiago. This year Chile granted market access to U.S. live cattle and renewed domestic access to U.S. bovine embryos, more easily allowing Chile’s farmers to improve the national beef and dairy herds with genetics supplied from the U.S. The last time I visited Chile was five years ago, so it was great to refresh the cooperative and collaborative working relationship between USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and SAG. Read more »
AMS interns at the USDA Internship Meeting at USDA Headquarters. During their internship, they met with senior USDA officials, including AMS Administrator Anne Alonzo (first row in the center with black coat and white dress).
Without farmers and the agricultural businesses that support them, no one can eat. This is a simple concept, but it implies that people will continue to choose careers in agriculture. Here at USDA, one of the ways that we encourage younger generations to choose these careers is offering grants to institutions that offer agricultural curriculums.
Through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), USDA enables students to expand their knowledge of the agricultural industry. NIFA provides grants to schools such as the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez (UPRM) through the Hispanic Serving Institutions Program. This allows these institutions to offer top-notch agricultural curriculums. Read more »
Ben Hofer, Rockport Colony Secretary, with a Kangal. NWRC researchers are studying the potential of these livestock guard animals for use where large predators include wolves and grizzly bear. The Kangal breed is gentle and trustworthy with their people or animals, but if the need arises they can become very protective. (USDA Photo by Under Secretary Edward Avalos)
USDA plays an important and vital role in supporting rural communities throughout the country. On my recent trip to Montana, I saw firsthand how the work, services and programs provided by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) directly impact stakeholder day-to-day operations.
After a listening session in Cut Bank, I was invited to the Rockport Colony, by Ben Hofer, the Secretary for the Hutterite community near Pendroy, Montana. This impressive communal farming/ranching operation includes sheep, cattle, hog and poultry production, a dairy, and meat-processing facility, as well as fruit, vegetable, and grain production. I quickly learned USDA is an important partner, providing support for water lines, fencing, and wildlife damage management. Read more »
Recently I traveled to New Mexico to meet with APHIS-Wildlife Services’ personnel for a firsthand view of their Feral Swine Removal Demonstration Project that aims to eliminate feral swine from the state. Feral swine are an invasive species with a population that has grown from approximately 1 million in 17 states in the 1980s to more than 5 million across 38 states today. If left unchecked, their numbers could exceed 10 million by 2018. Feral swine carry more than 30 diseases that pose a potential threat to humans, livestock, and wildlife, and the total cost of feral swine damage to U.S. agriculture, livestock facilities, private property, and natural resources is estimated to be $1.5 billion annually.
Wildlife Services’ demonstration project is benefitting from tremendous cooperation with federal, state, tribal, and nongovernmental partners, including the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, New Mexico Department of Agriculture, New Mexico State Land Office, and New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, as well as with the Mescalero Apache Tribe, New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association, New Mexico Wool Growers’ Association, affected counties and private land owners, among others. Read more »
West Virginia State Director Bobby Lewis and others visited Tucker County High School near Hambleton West Virginia as part of ARC’s tour through Appalachia. The group met with local educators and students to discuss the farm to school program; school, community and industry relationships; local farmers markets and greenhouse and high tunnel operation. While there, the group toured a high tunnel currently under construction. Photo Credit: Savanna Lyons of the WV Food & Farm Coalition
West Virginia and Appalachian Ohio have a lot in common beyond their shared state border. With a strong agricultural heritage, these vast rural areas are known for their forest and timber industries, and they are integrating food systems into local economic development.
Earlier this month, I joined Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Co-Chair Earl Gohl and Ohio’s State Rural Development Director Tony Logan to take a look at local food in the Buckeye state. My colleague, Deputy Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Joani Walsh, recently made a similar trip to West Virginia. Organized by ARC, the visits were an opportunity to discuss how local food is diversifying the economy, developing a more competitive workforce and generating opportunities within regions like Appalachia. “Through our work on the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative, we know that there are lots of ways that local foods are providing economic opportunities in rural communities,” said Walsh. “These visits with ARC gave us a clearer picture of how that is happening in Appalachia.” Read more »
2009-2012 stand as the strongest four years for agricultural exports in history.
Today, the American brand of agriculture is surging in popularity worldwide. Fiscal years 2009-2012 represent the strongest four years in history for agricultural trade, with U.S. agricultural product exports exceeding $478 billion over these four years. Overall, American agriculture supports 1 in 12 jobs in the United States and provides American consumers with 83 percent of the food we consume, while maintaining affordability and choice. And 2013 is off to a roaring start already – with agricultural exports on track to set a new record.
Just last week, USDA announced three initiatives that expand export opportunities and reduce barriers to trade. These announcements support President Obama’s National Export Initiative, which aims to double all U.S. exports by the end of 2014, as well as underscore USDA’s commitment to a strong and resilient agricultural economy, creating jobs and boosting economic growth nationwide. Read more »