ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, U.S. — The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) recently hosted the Import/Export Seminar, in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., featuring key speaker Suzanne Heinen, the administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA FAS).
The conference was created out of a recognized need for education and discussion on trade requirements for feed, ingredients and pet food, and also featured a number of high-level federal speakers from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Affairs (FDA CVM), the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and the Canadian Feed Inspection Agency (CFIA).
“The fact that we were able to secure representatives from intergovernmental agencies shows part of AFIA’s diversity in what we do for industry and the services we provide across the board,” stated Joel G. Newman, president and chief executive officer, AFIA. “I am confident that U.S. agricultural exports will continue to remain the industry’s largest segment of growth, which the 2014 Import/Export Seminar will surely reflect.”
Opening the conference was Administrator Heinen, who delivered an overview of FAS, which has offices in 50 countries. According to Heinen, the FAS strategy is comprised of four criteria: 1) trade policy; 2) market development and export assistance; 3) market intelligence and analysis and 4) international development.
Heinen explained that despite feed exports increasing over the last three years, many FAS programs have been halted due to the lack of a Farm Bill. Another constraint the agency faces is selecting what to include in export reports, as types of feed and feed ingredients vary from country to country. Generally, FAS includes prepared animal feeds, pet food and pet food/prepared foods as reporting variables. 
“AFIA was pleased to secure Administrator Heinen and other federal representatives for this conference. These agencies are integral to the U.S. expanding its global market share. It's very helpful for our members to learn how AFIA collaborates with these agencies to assist U.S. feed exporters in navigating the complex world of international trade,” said Gina Tumbarello, AFIA manager of international trade.
Kim Young, deputy director, division of compliance, FDA CVM, presented on his agency’s role in importing and exporting products. For exports, a product must meet four requirements: 1) has to meet the foreign purchaser’s specifications; 2) cannot be in conflict with the laws of the country where it’s being exported; 3) must be labeled that it is intended for export and 4) cannot have been offered for sale in domestic commerce. For its part, CVM must review applications and verifiy licenses and/or registrations, and may inspect a product prior to issuing an export certificate.
Young also outlined the process for importing animal products. After being notified electronically of a shipment, entry reviewers first determine if the product is in compliance and meets all regulatory requirements. To import a product, the facility must have a registration on file, be in compliance with the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act and provide appropriate notice before arriving at the port of arrival. If a product is not in compliance or a problem is found by entry reviewers, the product may be detained until compliant. Young stressed that U.S. Customs and Border Protection has ultimate control over a product, and therefore should be the first contact for product-related questions of clarification.
The second day of the conference offered three panels on exporting, trade agreements and the food and feed regulatory systems in other countries. The first panel featured presentations on China, an extremely growing and profitable market for the feed and feed ingredient industries. According to Becky Rasdall, international trade specialist, Office of Agreements and Scientific Affairs, FAS, U.S. feed and feed ingredient exports to China reached $1.6 billion in 2011, an astronomical growth rate of 478% over the 2009 rate.
Fred Gale, Economic Research Service, USDA, explained how the rise of living standards and growth caused China’s demand for meat, eggs and animal feed to increase. In correlation, the country’s imports, food prices and environmental waste have also risen. Although pork is the most common protein, pork production is costly. Beef and lamb are also hindered by cost, as well as lack of grassland.
Rosanne Freese, senior international trade specialist, USDA, explained the current reform of China’s food safety law, the main issue being the lack of cohesion, oversight and standardized regulations between agencies and private sectors. In an effort to address these concerns, China has issued a five year plan for a food safety system.
Similarly, the Canadian Feed Inspection Agency is working on a long-term initiative redesigning its federal food control legislation. Although this requires virtually reframing the scope of CFIA and will take time to complete due in part to gathering significant input from industry to generate ideas about the proposed rules, the final law will be extremely beneficial to Canada, the U.S. and other global trade partners.
The panel on trade agreements featured speakers who detailed U.S. trade agreements. Erin Hubbard, USDA FAS, provided a closer look at the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Presently, 10 countries are participating in the TPP negotiations in addition to the U.S.: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Of those, the U.S. has preferential agreements with six partner countries. USTR serves as the coordinator for interagency policy development. U.S. agricultural exports to TPP negotiating countries totaled $43.5 billion in 2011 and accounted for 32% of total U.S. agricultural exports.
Another trade agreement, the U.S. – Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS), is very lucrative for the U.S. According to Tani Lee, USDA FAS, Korea has the 13th largest economy in the world and has a $1.5 trillion economy with 49 million consumers. To meet demand, Korea relies on imports to meet its food and agricultural needs. In 2012, U.S. agricultural exports to Korea totaled $6.2 billion, making Korea the fifth largest market for the U.S., its top supplier for agricultural products.
Colombia also represents a large export market for the U.S., which exported $71 million in animal feed to the country in 2011. Demand is expected to increase with the implementation of the U.S. – Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement, according to Dylan Daniels, International Economist, FAS.
The Import/Export Seminar was developed to educate AFIA members about the role of various agencies, constraints and how current efforts can supported in international trade. The next Import/Export Seminar will be held in late 2014.