Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today announced recent results of the Agency's efforts to support exports of U.S. agricultural products. APHIS' recent efforts are expected to help increase exports of U.S. cattle, poultry products, and pears by over $85 million a year.
Day-Old Chicks and Hatching Eggs to Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan
APHIS is announcing the opening of export markets to Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia for U.S. day-old chicks and hatching eggs, increasing U.S. exports by an estimated $25 million a year.
"This is a significant agreement for poultry exporters in the United States," said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. "For nearly 10 years, APHIS has pursued the opening of the Russian market to U.S. day-old chicks and hatching eggs, and now we have also secured access for these products to Belarus and Kazakhstan."
In February, APHIS veterinary health personnel and their counterparts in Moscow developed the export documentation that APHIS will issue for products shipped to the three countries. In 2010, Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus formed a Customs Union, and are currently working to harmonize import requirements for cattle and other live animals and livestock products. The market access for poultry commodities represents the first of nearly 40 new agreements related to live animals and animal products that USDA will work to negotiate with the Customs Union.
Dairy Cattle to Iraq
Following direct negotiations with Iraqi animal health officials in February, APHIS officials reached agreement with their counterparts on export certification requirements for U.S. dairy cattle shipments to that country.
"The Middle East is an important and emerging market for U.S. cattle exporters," said Vilsack.
The annual market value is projected to be more than $60 million. APHIS will work with exporters to ensure the exported cattle meet the terms of the agreement with Iraq.
Anjou Pears to China
APHIS is also announcing the arrival of the first shipment of U.S. Anjou pears to China. U.S. pears are now available for the first time ever to consumers in China.
APHIS officials have worked in conjunction with industry, federal and international partners to open the Chinese market to U.S. grown pears. In 2012, U.S. and Chinese officials reached an agreement to accept exports of pears grown in the two countries.
"APHIS worked diligently with their industry partners and our agriculture counterparts in China to realize this accomplishment," said Vilsack. "This initial shipment of 6,615 boxes of U.S. pears was worth over $100,000, and brings with it the excitement of new market opportunities and continued success for this industry. We expect China to become one of the top five export destinations for U.S.-grown pears within the next two seasons."
APHIS' team of technical experts, based in the United States and abroad, includes scientists, veterinarians, pathologists, and entomologists that advocate on behalf of U.S. agriculture. They build relationships with their agricultural health and regulatory counterparts in other countries and use scientific principles to explain to foreign officials why U.S. commodities are safe to import. APHIS' efforts include keeping U.S. agricultural industries free from pests and diseases and certifying that the millions of U.S. agricultural and food products shipped to markets abroad meet the importing countries' entry requirements.
The Obama Administration, with Agriculture Secretary Vilsack's leadership, has aggressively worked to expand export opportunities and reduce barriers to trade, helping to push agricultural exports to record levels. U.S. agriculture is currently experiencing its best period in history thanks to the productivity, resiliency, and resourcefulness of our producers and agribusinesses. Today, net farm income is at record levels while debt has been cut in half since the 1980s. 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. Strong agricultural exports contribute to a positive U.S. trade balance, create jobs, boost economic growth and support President Obama's National Export Initiative goal of doubling all U.S. exports by the end of 2014.