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USDA boosts specialty crop exports with $20 million initiative


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a significant investment in American agriculture with the launch of a new initiative focused on specialty crop exports. Under Alexis M. Taylor revealed a $20 million funding program called the Assisting Specialty Crop Exports (ASCE) initiative.

The ASCE program tackles non-tariff trade barriers that hinder the export of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and other specialty crops. These barriers can include complex packaging regulations and limitations on pesticide residue levels in different countries.

"This initiative will empower U.S. specialty crop exporters to overcome these challenges and expand their reach to new overseas markets," said Under Taylor. "Specialty crop exports are already a major contributor to the U.S. economy, generating $25.8 billion annually. The ASCE program aims to build on this success and unlock even greater potential."

The ASCE program focuses on several key areas - 

  • Sustainable Packaging Solutions - Funding research for innovative packaging materials that comply with international regulations and extend product shelf life.

  • Trade Barrier Reduction - Addressing discrepancies in maximum residue limits (MRLs) for pesticides across different regions to facilitate smoother trade.

  • Data-Driven Approach - Supporting research to establish science-based MRLs for international trade.

  • Exporters' Toolkit - Creating user-friendly resources for exporters to navigate MRL requirements in key markets.

The USDA emphasizes the importance of innovation in this program. Taylor highlighted research efforts at the University of Wisconsin-Stout on sustainable packaging solutions as a prime example. These advancements will not only help specialty crop exporters reach new markets but also ensure product safety and quality.

By addressing trade barriers and supporting innovative solutions, the ASCE program has the potential to significantly boost U.S. specialty crop exports, benefiting both producers and consumers worldwide.

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