USDA and USTR Announce Continued Progress on Implementation of U.S.-China Phase One Agreement

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) today announced additional progress in the implementation of the agriculture-related provisions of the U.S.-China Phase One Economic and Trade Agreement (The Agreement), which entered into force on February 14, 2020. Recent actions described below build upon the actions announced by USDA and USTR on February 25, March 10, and March 24.  These are difficult times for both our countries.  It is important that we each continue to work to make our agreement a success.  Because of this continued progress due to the Agreement:

  • U.S. blueberries and California Hass avocados can now be exported to China.  This new market access will provide California avocado growers and blueberry growers from around the United States with new opportunities to market their products to Chinese consumers in the coming years.  In 2019, China imported a record volume of fresh fruits and vegetables exceeding $8.6 billion.   
  • U.S. barley for processing, along with the forage products Timothy hay, alfalfa hay pellets and cubes, and almond meal pellets and cubes can now be exported to China.  In 2019, China imported $1.5 billion of barley used as feed and for malt beverage production, and a record $500 million of forage products.  
  • In recent weeks, China updated its lists of U.S. facilities eligible to export beef, pork, poultry, seafood, dairy, and infant formula products to China. China’s lists now include 499 beef, 457 pork, 470 poultry, 397 seafood, and 253 dairy and 9 infant formula facilities. As a result of these actions, more U.S. facilities are eligible to export U.S. food and agricultural products to China than ever before.  USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service continues to update its export library, which provides additional guidance for U.S. meat and poultry meat exporters, including information related to the scope of products that may be exported to China, China’s labeling requirements, and other guidance.
  • China published on May 15 a new domestic standard for dairy permeate powder for human consumption that will allow imports of this product from the United States in the future.  In 2019, China imported nearly $12 billion of dairy products from around the world.

China continues to implement its tariff exclusion process in an attempt to facilitate imports of U.S. commodities.  USDA continues to publish guidance for U.S. exporters seeking to participate in this process (USDA Global Agricultural Information Network).  USTR is continuing to process and where appropriate grant exclusions of products from China. USDA also is implementing its obligations under the agreement.

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said, “China is a market of tremendous potential for U.S. agriculture and these actions will help U.S. exporters expand their sales there.  We look forward to continued cooperative work with China on implementation of Phase One commitments, and immediate increases in U.S. exports of all manner of agricultural products.”

United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said, “China has worked with the United States to implement measures that will provide greater access for U.S. producers and exporters to China’s growing food and agricultural markets. Under President Trump’s leadership, we fully expect this agreement to be a success.”

Secretary of Commerce allocates $300 million in CARES Act aid to U.S. fishermen and seafood industries impacted by COVID-19

WASHINGTON – Today, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced the allocation of $300 million in economic relief to U.S. fishermen and seafood industries impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds were allocated as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), signed into law on March 27 by President Trump.

Commercial fishing, charter/for-hire businesses, qualified aquaculture operations, processors, and parts of the seafood sector in coastal states and territories are among those eligible to apply for funds. Tribes are also eligible for funding including for any negative impacts to subsistence, cultural, or ceremonial fisheries. The Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will work with the three Interstate Marine Fishery Commissions, organizations with a demonstrated track record of success in disbursing funds, to quickly deliver financial assistance into the hands of those who need it.

“This relief package will support America’s fishermen and our seafood sector’s recovery,” said U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. “Thank you President Trump, Secretary Mnuchin, and our Congressional leaders of both parties for your work to pass the historic legislation that is bringing much needed relief to America’s fishermen. This Administration stands with the men and women working to provide healthy and safe seafood during this uniquely challenging time, while our U.S. fisheries work to continue to support 1.7 million jobs and to generate $200 billion in annual sales. The Nation is grateful to our fishermen for their commitment.”

Acting NOAA Administrator Neil Jacobs, Ph.D., lauded today’s announcement.

“For generations, our coastal communities have taken great pride in delivering protein-rich seafood to dinner tables across the country and enabling access to our world class recreational fisheries,” said Jacobs. “NOAA thanks our partners in the interstate marine fisheries commissions, states, territories, and tribes for their assistance. Together, we will work to distribute these funds as quickly as possible.”

In addition to these funds, the President recently signed into law other Federal financial assistance programs, including several programs at the Small Business Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture, that can provide help to fishermen and related businesses.

USDA Announces Investments in Water and Wastewater Infrastructure in 23 States

WASHINGTON, March 26, 2019 – Acting Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Joel Baxley today announced that USDA is investing $116 million to help rebuild and improve rural water infrastructure for 171,000 rural Americans in 23 states.

“Helping to bring modern water and wastewater infrastructure to rural communities will increase economic opportunities and improve the quality of life for rural residents,” Baxley said. “The investments USDA is announcing today are foundational to health, safety and economic development in rural communities across America.”

USDA is working with local partners to provide financing for 49 water and environmental infrastructure projects. The funding is being provided through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program. It can be used for drinking water, stormwater drainage and waste disposal systems for rural communities with 10,000 or fewer residents.

Eligible communities and water districts can apply online on the interactive RD Apply tool or through one of USDA Rural Development’s state or field offices.

Below are some examples of the investments USDA is making:

In Arkansas, Lake City will use a $2.3 million loan to modernize its wastewater treatment and collection system, which serves more than 2,000 residents. This project will improve the system’s capacity and reliability.
Rensselaer, Ind., is receiving a $3.4 million loan and a $1.7 million grant to connect three unserved areas of the city to the sewer system and to replace the main lift station. The homes that will be connected are currently served by individual septic systems. This project will benefit nearly 6,000 residents.
The city of Franklin, Idaho, is receiving a $900,000 loan and a $522,000 grant to increase the supply of water available to the Franklin Water System. The city’s water storage and spring boxes will be rehabilitated, and approximately two miles of pipe that connect the springs to the water system will be replaced. This project will also add two backup wells. It will provide more than 600 of the city’s residents and businesses with reliable water quantity and quality.
USDA is making investments in rural communities in: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Washington.

In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a key recommendation of the task force.

USDA Issues Permit for Santa’s Reindeer

WASHINGTON, Dec. 22, 2017 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) issued a movement permit to Mr. S. Claus of the North Pole, a broker with Worldwide Gifts, Unlimited. The permit will allow reindeer to enter and exit the United States between the hours of 7 p.m. December 24, 2017 and 7 a.m. December 25, 2017, through or over any U.S. border port.

“It’s the season of giving and joy. Here at USDA we don’t want anything to delay these very important reindeer at our borders,” said Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “We know that children all over the country – including my own fourteen grandchildren – are eagerly awaiting a visit from Mr. Claus and his team before they wake on Christmas morning. USDA issued this permit in advance and waived all applicable fees to help ensure a smooth trip on Christmas Eve night.”

In addition to the normal disease testing requirements, flying reindeer must undergo additional tests to ensure they will be able to safely handle significant changes in altitude and temperature throughout their journey, and are fit for landing on rooftops. On this year’s health certificate, the accredited veterinarian noted that one of the reindeer named Rudolph was positive for “red nose syndrome,” however, it was also explained that this is normal for him and not an animal health concern. The veterinarian also verified the reindeer have been vaccinated against any diseases they could encounter on their trip around the world.

At the request of Mr. and Mrs. Claus, APHIS also completed a courtesy welfare and humane treatment check of the reindeer facility.  Mr. Claus and his staff passed with flying colors.

They will arrive pulling a wooden sleigh with jingling bells attached, filled with brightly wrapped gifts. Port personnel will clean and disinfect the runners and underside of the sleigh at the time of entry, and will also conduct a short visual inspection of the reindeer. Mr. Claus will also have his boots disinfected and will thoroughly wash his hands. These measures are intended to prevent the entry of any livestock diseases the team may encounter during deliveries to farms around the world prior to entering the United States.

“It would be a disaster for Worldwide Gifts, Unlimited, if my reindeer were to unintentionally bring in foot and mouth disease along with all the gifts,” explained Mr. Claus. “Why, something like that could put me out of business. That’s why we work all year to keep the reindeer healthy and take all possible precautions before and during our trip.”

Mr. Claus has also provided an advance list of what port personnel should expect upon their arrival. This includes a variety of food items, all of which come from approved locations and none of which pose a threat to U.S. animal or plant health.

“As we do every day, we work diligently to ensure the health of American agriculture. Mr. Claus and the reindeer can safely continue their journey across the country and around the world, spreading holiday cheer as they go,” said Secretary Perdue.

Private Exporters Report Sales Activity for China

USDA, Sept. 27, 2017—Private exporters reported to the U.S. Department of Agriculture export sales of 132,000 metric tons of soybeans for delivery to China during the 2017/2018 marketing year.

The marketing year for soybeans began Sept. 1.

USDA issues both daily and weekly export sales reports to the public. Exporters are required to report to USDA any export sales activity of 100,000 tons or more of one commodity, made in one day or quantities totaling 200,000 tons or more in any reporting period, except 20,000 tons for soybean oil, made in one day to one destination or quantities totaling 40,000 tons or more in any reporting period, by 3:00 p.m. Eastern time on the next business day following the sale. Export sales of less than these quantities must be reported to USDA on a weekly basis.

U.S., China Sign Historic Agreement to Provide Market Access for U.S. Rice Exports

WASHINGTON, July 20, 2017 – Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has reached agreement with Chinese officials on final details of a protocol to allow the United States to begin exporting rice to China for the first time ever.

“This is another great day for U.S. agriculture and, in particular, for our rice growers and millers, who can now look forward to gaining access to the Chinese market. This market represents an exceptional opportunity today, with enormous potential for growth in the future,” said Perdue. “The agreement with China has been in the works for more than a decade and I’m pleased to see it finally come to fruition, especially knowing how greatly it will benefit our growers and industry.”

China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of rice. Since 2013, it has also been the largest importer, with imports reaching nearly 5 million tons last year. When the new rice protocol is fully implemented, the U.S. rice industry will have access to this critical market, significantly expanding export opportunities. U.S. rice exports can begin following the completion of an audit of U.S. rice facilities by China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.

USDA Awards First Loans in the Rural Energy Savings Program

WASHINGTON, May 10, 2017 – Acting Deputy Under Secretary Roger Glendenning today announced that USDA is providing zero-interest loans to two rural energy providers to help business and residential customers lower energy use and costs.

“Funding commercial, farm and residential energy efficiency investments supports rural economies,” Glendenning said. “These investments save money for consumers, create jobs in the community and help energy providers better manage costs.”

USDA is awarding a $13 million Rural Energy Savings Program (RESP) loan to South Carolina’s KW Savings Co. and a $1 million loan to the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council (NOPEC). These are the first loans USDA is making through RESP. They are being provided through the Electric Program of USDA’s Rural Utilities Service, the successor to the Rural Electrification Administration. The Electric Program makes loans and loan guarantees in rural areas to nonprofit and cooperative associations, public bodies and other utilities to help finance the construction of electric distribution and generation facilities.

KW Savings will use the USDA loan to provide funds to seven rural electric cooperatives for South Carolina’s “Help My House” program, which supports investments in behind-the-meter technologies and building improvements to reduce consumers’ energy bills. The seven cooperatives are: Aiken Electric Cooperative, Inc.; Santee Electric Cooperative, Inc.; Tri-County Electric Cooperative, Inc.; Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative, Inc.; Little River Electric Cooperative, Inc.; Lynches River Electric Cooperative, Inc.; and Broad River Electric Cooperative, Inc.

NOPEC, a nonprofit regional council of governments, will provide energy improvement loans to small businesses in 206 rural communities across 13 counties in northeast Ohio. USDA’s funds will support NOPEC’s Savings Through Efficiency Program (STEP), which is expected to reduce energy costs for small businesses by 15 percent.

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; homeownership; community services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit http://www.rd.usda.gov.



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