Members of the corn, sorghum and barley industries are gathering this week at the U.S. Grains Council's 52nd Annual Meeting and 9th International Marketing Conference in Panama City, Panama. Christian Foster, Deputy Administrator of USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service Office of Trade Programs, explained to the meeting the five-year strategic plan in place for FAS, which has three guiding pillars.
"Trade promotion, trade policy market access issues, and trade capacity building and food security matters," Foster said. "Our plan, which is just being finished now through 2016, has an objective of raising exports by $65 billion. As you know, right now U.S. ag exports are currently $132 billion. The truth is USDA is not going to raise the export level, it's groups like this today and our other cooperators that work every day using some of the taxpayer's money and matching it with their own to raise export levels."
Foster says the Trade Action Plan covers 20 countries .
"It's not the top 20 exporting nations, it's the top 20 countries where we have market access issues and where we focus and expect the biggest gain," Foster said. "We also at the country level have a country strategic statement, and also as you know the President just in 2010 announced his export goals, his national export initiative. As you can see here he mentions raising our exports, which is so important to the U.S. economy, to over $3 trillion from the $1.6 trillion that it was in 2010."
Foster also addressed how USDA will be involved regarding the next farm bill.
"While the secretary has said we don't write the farm bill we simply provide any assistance to Congress that it may ask for or require, he has said in recent meetings that he would expect the farm bill to address a number of key areas," Foster said. "Financial help for producers when needed, conservation issues and most importantly he did emphasize that the farm bill needs to stress and encourage continued expanded trade as it is so vital to agriculture."
The USGC meeting continues through Thursday.