The past four years have been tremendously positive for America’s efforts to export more agricultural goods and products around the world.
The brand of American agriculture is soaring worldwide. In fact, 2009 to 2012 represents the best four years in our nation’s history for agricultural exports. Exports have grown more than 50% over that period of time.
We have reason to believe that more good news is ahead. Recently, USDA economists forecast agricultural product exports for next year to exceed $145 billion. That would set yet another new record – and it would allow agricultural exports to continue supporting more than a million jobs.
Data from the first month of fiscal year 2013 show that we’re off to a good start. Agricultural exports were up more than 20% in October 2012 over October 2011.
It’s important for folks to remember that this success didn’t happen overnight. It is the result of an effort by President Obama to expand export opportunities for American businesses, and level the playing field for U.S. products.
Since 2009, more than 1,000 U.S. businesses – most of them small or medium sized – participated in USDA-endorsed trade shows around the world. Those companies are expected to export more than $4 billion in products this coming year.
Meanwhile, USDA has helped remove barriers to trade that unfairly limit U.S. products from foreign markets.
In the past year alone, we’ve helped open the door for a wide variety of products. For just a few examples, trade barriers were removed for U.S. apples to South Africa; we’ll be able to export more potatoes to Japan and more meat to the Philippines; and we have enabled more trade of organic produce to the European Union.
This comes on the heels of efforts by the Obama Administration to implement three historic trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and South Korea. These agreements will expand agricultural trade this year and beyond, supporting more than 20,000 U.S. jobs.
President Obama is serious about his goal under the National Export Initiative to double U.S. exports by 2014. I’m proud that agriculture has contributed greatly to meeting the goal – and USDA will do all it can to expand these opportunities in the future.