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Industry Update

Veneman Announces Encouraging Trade Forecasts

Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman reported encouraging projections for agricultural exports during a House Agriculture Committee hearing yesterday. U.S. agricultural exports for fiscal year (FY) 2004, Veneman noted, are expected to reach near-record levels of $59 billion — $2.8 billion more than FY 2003 values.

Increased exports are being attributed to higher prices, increased demand, stronger growth in U.S. and world economies, and a lower-valued U.S. dollar. And, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) news release, FY 2004 agricultural exports would have surpassed $60 billion, the record set in FY 1996, if not for the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and avian influenza (AI) market disruptions.

During the hearing, Veneman also recognized the growing importance of trade with Canada and Mexico, which are expected to pull in a combined $17.6 billion in ag products. China will also be a growing importer of U.S. goods, with sales expected to reach $5.4 billion.

Canada is forecasted as the largest export market, followed by Japan, which moved into the No. 2 position after market disruption surrounding beef and poultry sales. Mexico is expected to slightly increase its demand, securing the No. 3 slot, while the European Union (EU) is forecasted to be the fourth-largest ag export market for FY 2004, increasing its demand by 10%.

Worldwide FMD research effort underway

USDA officials will be hosting the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Global Research Alliance today and tomorrow in Washington, D.C., to discuss research initiatives surrounding FMD.

Cooperating national and international research organizations have joined the USDA in forming the FMD Global Research Alliance in order to develop better vaccines and other tools to aid the international community in fighting FMD outbreaks. Besides USDA resources, the alliance includes laboratories from the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and Kenya.

Although the United States hasn’t had an FMD outbreak since 1929, the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will work to develop a new vaccine and to identify antiviral compounds that would stop virus replication and speed reaction to the vaccine — potentially saving millions of animals and billions of dollars in the case of an outbreak.

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