Last week was monumental for American farmers. Under the new U.S.-Korea trade agreement, two-thirds of the tariffs imposed on U.S. food and agricultural products exported to South Korea are being eliminated. That includes wheat, corn, soybeans for crushing, whey for feed use, hides and skins, cotton, cherries, pistachios, almonds, orange juice, grape juice, and wine.
Over the next few years, as additional barriers fall and more U.S. businesses market products to Korea’s expanding economy, American agricultural exports should grow by $1.9 billion and help support nearly 16,000 jobs here at home. Read more »
The USDA Agricultural Trade Office (ATO) in Seoul recently launched a Web page to showcase potential opportunities to be created by the soon-to-be-implemented U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement (KORUS). KORUS will take effect on March 15, 2012.
The Foreign Agricultural Service recommends that U.S. agricultural exporters and those interested in expanding sales to international markets visit the page, called What U.S. Exporters Need to Know about the KORUS Agreement, to learn about the agreement, understand new tariff schedules, and gain valuable information about the fifth-largest market for U.S. farm products. Read more »
EU Commissioner of Agriculture and Rural Development Dacian Cioloş (left) Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced that the United States and the European Union formed a partnership that will recognize the two organic programs as equivalent and allow access to each other's markets. The announcement was made at the BioFach World Organic Fair in Nuremberg, Germany on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012. Photo courtesy of the European Commission.
Travis Forgues is an organic dairy farmer in the town of Alburgh in northwest Vermont, almost at the Canadian border and surrounded on three sides by Lake Champlain. Like many of the other dairy farmers in northern Vermont, Travis is a realist. He went to college. He tried city life. But he was born into farming, and that’s how he wanted to raise his own family. So Travis went to his dad and had a talk about organic farming, and he convinced his father, and then many others, to convert their land from conventional agricultural practices to organic. As Travis saw it, organics was a growing niche within American agriculture, and consumer demand for organically produced dairy was taking off. Better still, consumers were willing to pay more for organic products. Today, as a result of Travis’ work, nearly 130 dairy farmers across New England have signed on to the “New England Pastures” organic dairy cooperative for Organic Valley. Read more »
Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of traveling to Kansas City to address our nation’s farm broadcasters at the 68th Annual National Association of Farm Broadcasters (NAFB) meeting to answer questions about key issues affecting our agricultural community. Since I usually only talk to the broadcasters over the phone, I enjoy coming to NAFB each year to meet with them face-to-face. This year was particularly special because I was able to share good news regarding the state of our agricultural economy, farm exports as well as information about recent USDA streamlining initiatives that will allow us better assist our nation’s producers.
I was proud to announce that we set a record of $137.4 billion in agricultural exports this past fiscal year—exceeding past highs by over $22.5 billion—to support more than 115 million American jobs. We were able to set a trade surplus record of $42 billion, which is a testimony to the hard work of our nation’s producers as the backbone of the American economy. 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 »