The U.S. Agricultural Export Development Council (USAEDC) recently held its annual workshop, which was attended by commodity trade associations, state and regional trade groups as well as marketing and research companies to hear the latest updates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture on current agricultural, economic and political developments.
Undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs Ted McKinney gave the keynote address in which he highlighted the importance of looking for new trading partners in emerging markets and elsewhere. He said the U.S.'s current trading partners alone will not provide the growth in exports required and expected and pointed to recent U.S. trade missions to Egypt, Brazil and India.
"Undersecretary McKinney's remarks were spot on for us; we need to find new export markets while still protecting and expanding our existing markets," said USA Rice vice president international Sarah Moran, who attended the workshop. "The Trump Administration's trade team tends to put a lot of emphasis on trade deficits, but agriculture is a great example of U.S. strength, efficiency and ingenuity, which is why our sector posts a trade surplus. We need to keep moving forward though -- more trading opportunities, not less."
Mark Slupek, deputy administrator for the office of trade programs, expanded on the importance of these trade missions as they provided educational and business development opportunities for 75 agribusinesses, cooperators and state departments of agriculture and enabled more than 1,000 one-on-one business meetings that he projects will lead to more than $30 million in projected sales over the next year.
Janae Brady, senior professional staff for the Senate Agriculture Committee, discussed the upcoming farm bill budget. Brady highlighted the program areas in which the committee would like to spend more -- specifically on commodities, conservation, loans, research and trade. She also emphasized the importance of telling the agriculture industry's success stories on partnerships, return on investment, new markets and the current reliable markets for U.S. agricultural exports.