The U.S. makes up about five percent of the world's consumers but only one percent of American companies export to world markets. That's according to Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack, who says that particular statistic is an integral part of the regional "Made in Rural America" initiative, spearheaded by the White House Rural Council.
This year five forums will be held to inform small rural businesses of federal programs and export opportunities.
The timing couldn't be better, with two major trade deals in the works. There's the bilateral Trans-Atlantic Trade and investment partnership with the European Union, and the multilateral Trans-Pacific Partnership with eleven other Pacific Rim nations. Vilsack says the EU is already the fifth-largest market for U.S. ag products, but says the Trans-Pacific Partnership is ripe with potential.
"When you talk about a Trans-Pacific Partnership (the TPP), you're talking about opening up opportunities to literally hundreds of millions of new customers. At the same time, I think it creates opportunities for our producers in particular, our farmers and ranchers, to extend the record-breaking exports that we've seen recently, by dramatically increasing market opportunity."
The next forum is set for July 18 near Memphis, Tennessee.