The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) worked to ensure the viability of American ag exports amidst a challenging year. Adjustments to normal operation, particularly in foreign markets, had to be made to navigate the challenges of COVID-19. Despite the obstacles presented by the ongoing pandemic, FAS was able to make progress on a multitude of issues.
“The U.S. agricultural industry and USDA have always taken pride in our ability to provide the world with high-quality, cost-competitive food, feed, fuel and fiber,” Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney said in a press release. “Even in the midst of a global pandemic, that commitment remained unwavering. Our worldwide team closely monitored the ever-changing situation and remained engaged with our international partners, not only to help minimize the COVID-19 pandemic’s impacts on trade and global food security, but also to expand export opportunities for our farmers, ranchers and processors.”
Several successful endeavors were accomplished throughout 2020. The Phase One trade agreement with China was signed back in January, addressing several points of contention between the U.S. and China. Implementation of the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement and the U.S.- Mexico-Canada Agreement was monitored by FAS during 2020. FAS was involved in the pursuit of bilateral trade agreements with the United Kingdom and Kenya. The agency also worked to expand agricultural export opportunities in Chile, Morocco, and Vietnam.
FAS worked to overcome logistical complications to ensure that American ag exports arrived quickly and safely at their intended destinations. The FAS Export Credit Guarantee Program also provided credit guarantees to support the sale of more than $2.2 billion in U.S. agricultural goods. Industry members were also kept up to date on market conditions through FAS virtual outreach which included workshops and seminars. FAS also overhauled market promotion activities to promote U.S. ag product in foreign markets while adhering to COVID-19 protocols.