There are approximately 170 Foreign Service officers in USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), staffing 98 offices covering 162 countries. U.S. farmers, ranchers, trade associations and private companies depend on FAS staff to guide them through export of their products. FAS provides reports on hot market prospects and offers expertise when trade barriers arise. Over the past year, FAS has helped to knock down hundreds of barriers to trade. Examples include:
- Negotiated the release of hundreds of detained shipments in dozens of countries, valued at well over $60 million, and ranging from soybean meal in Latvia, to white zinfandel in the EU, rice bran pellets in Norway, Massachusetts scallops in Spain, and U.S. meat and poultry products in Taiwan.
- Began implementing trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, ensuring duty free access for a wide variety of U.S. food and farm products expected to boost U.S. agricultural exports by more than $2.3 billion per year when fully implemented, and support nearly 20,000 domestic jobs in the process.
- Negotiated expanded access for U.S. beef to the United Arab Emirates and El Salvador. In 2012, U.S. beef and beef product exports to United Arab Emirates and El Salvador reached $47 million.
- Engaged with China on a memorandum of understanding on soybean trade that prevented disruptions to over $12 billion of U.S. exports. Maintained market access for U.S. dairy—valued at over $432 million in 2012—by coordinating a draft dairy export certificate with the government of China.
- Spearheaded negotiations with Indonesia to exempt countries with food safety recognition, including the United States, from new restrictions on a variety of imported fruit and vegetables. U.S. fresh fruit exports to Indonesia were $110 million in 2012.
- Helped to negotiate the organic equivalence arrangement with the European Union. This partnership between the two largest organic-producers in the world will establish a strong foundation from which to promote organic agriculture, benefiting the growing organic industry and supporting jobs and businesses on a global scale.
- Engaged with India on a measure likely to have halted U.S. apple and pear exports valued at nearly $110 million annually.
- Expanded market access for U.S. potatoes in Asia, and positioned U.S exporters to take advantage of the U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement that permits duty-free entry of up to 3,000 metric tons of U.S. potatoes each year. Last year, the United States exported $7 million of fresh potatoes to Korea.
- Worked with Mexico to remove a 16 percent tax on dehydrated U.S. cranberries that had been erroneously applied for two months.