The prosperity of American agriculture provides us with a secure and abundant food supply here at home – and tremendous opportunity to export quality U.S. products across the globe.
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.
2013 is off to a roaring start already – with agricultural exports on track to set a new record.
This week has brought especially good news for America’s beef producers. On Monday, the Government of Japan—which represents our fourth largest agricultural export market—announced an agreement to expand access for U.S. beef. We estimate that this new agreement will result in hundreds of millions of dollars in economic benefits for the U.S. economy in the coming years.
This builds on USDA’s efforts to break down barriers to trade around the world. In the past year alone, we’ve expanded access for Pacific Northwest apples to South Africa; citrus and cherries to Korea; and poultry to Macedonia – just to name a few of many examples.
Exports like these are important for farm families and have helped fuel growth in net farm income from just $85 billion in 2008 to $114 billion last year.
Businesses in every corner of the country have also benefited greatly – and USDA has helped to market their quality products. Since 2009 we have been able to help conduct more than 110 trade shows around the world to help more than 1,000 U.S. companies make more than $500 million in on-site sales. The majority of these were small and medium-sized businesses.
While strong exports benefit farms and rural communities, agricultural trade is also a building block for a strong national economy that creates good jobs and benefits every American. In fact, agricultural exports directly support more than one million jobs here at home.
Presently, we have an historic opportunity to build on our success, and sell more homegrown products than ever before. We’ll keep up our efforts every day to break down more barriers and open more markets – and I will also continue working with Congress to achieve passage of a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill that will continue our efforts to expand agricultural trade.
A Weekly Message from Agriculture Secretary Vilsak