USDA chief to promote ag exports to Japan
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will travel to Japan on April 5-9 to promote U.S. agricultural exports to the Asian country.
Vilsack will meet with Japanese Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Hirotaka Akamatsu, as well as U.S. exporters and Japanese importers.
'My mission on this trip will be to continue to push hard to open markets and to bolster an open, rules-based international trading system that will benefit both customers and our farmers and ranchers, who supply agricultural products around the world,' Vilsack said in a statement.
During the trip, he will give a keynote address at a Global Food Security Symposium, sponsored by the U.S. Grains Council, on April 7 and will speak at the Foreign Correspondents Club on April 9.
On April 8, Vilsack will take the train from Tokyo to Yamanashi to help commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1959 'hog lift' when Iowa farmers shipped 36 hogs to Yamanashi after Japan suffered major livestock losses caused by two typhoons. Three years later, the original 36 hogs multiplied to more than 500.
'The 'hog lift' symbolizes the start of a flourishing agricultural relationship,' Vilsack said. 'For more than 50 years, U.S. grains and soybeans producers have worked with Japanese importers to develop strong and reliable markets that have benefited producers and consumers alike.'
According to the USDA, Japan is the United States' third-largest export market with sales of more than $11 billion in fiscal year 2009. The top five U.S. agricultural commodities shipped there are coarse grains, red meats, soybeans, feeds and fodders, and processed fruits and vegetables.