Acting Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse will lead nearly 40 American businesses on a U.S. Department of Agriculture trade mission to China March 23-28. U.S. agricultural exports to China have grown more than 80 percent in the past three years. The USDA trade mission aims to help American businesses strike new deals, strengthen business ties, expand their markets, and support jobs for Americans.
"This is the largest USDA trade mission to date," said Scuse in a news release. "China and the United States share a special relationship, and we embrace this opportunity to demonstrate that our U.S. farmers, ranchers, and producers are reliable suppliers of the highest-quality food and agricultural products. At the same time, USDA and our federal partners will continue to aggressively work to expand export opportunities and reduce barriers to trade."
Also joining Scuse on the mission are leaders from six state departments of agriculture, including Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey, Oklahoma Agriculture Secretary Jim Reese and representatives from North Carolina, Illinois, Kansas and South Dakota. In Shanghai, the delegation will be joined by Deputy Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Darci Vetter and Ambassador Islam Siddiqui, who is the chief agricultural negotiator for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
During stops in Chengdu and Shanghai, participants will meet with dozens of Chinese producers, importers, buyers, distributors and investors. The mission also coincides with the Food Ingredients China (FIC) trade show where Scuse will cut the ribbon to open the show's USA Pavilion.
Chinese demand for bulk commodities like soybeans and cotton is high, while demand for high-value U.S. products like meat and processed foods continues to grow. Bilateral trade between the United States and China in fiscal year 2011 reached an all-time high of $32.1 billion. U.S. exports to China were $22.8 billion and exports from China to the United States were $9.3 billion. Today, USDA's largest overseas presence is in China. With seven offices in five cities, USDA is well-positioned to support American agriculture and agribusinesses.
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 in 2011 and beyond. U.S. agriculture is currently experiencing one of its best periods in history thanks to the productivity and resourcefulness of our producers.
Today, net farm income is at near 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.
A list of companies participating in the China trade mission follows. For more information, visit http://www.fas.usda.gov/icd/ATM/China2012/default.asp.