California Exported $20 Billion in Food Products in 2016
By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor
It’s no secret that California’s agricultural exports are a huge part of the state’s economy—but to put it in perspective, over $20 billion worth of food and agricultural products were exported in 2016 alone (the latest figures). With numbers like these, people like Glen Roberts of the U.S. Department of Commerce and International Trade Administration are kept busy.
Roberts, who is part of the Global Markets sector and based in Fresno, not only works with what he calls “easy” exports like Mexico and Canada, but other places across the globe, shipping anything and everything from food to machinery.
When it comes to his role in California, Roberts explained, “Our office covers from the top of the Grapevine, Kern County, all the way up to Stanislaus County from San Louis Obispo over to Nevada.”
His sector, which handles more of the commercial side of things, acts as a gateway to other government programs that help out with international trade.
Although Roberts’ main focus is commercial, he’s still one of the go-to guys in agriculture exports.
“What happened when the almond prices dropped? I got the calls because Foreign Ag Service doesn’t handle contractual disputes,” he said.
Roberts further added, “I had to help out our local almond growers because the buyers didn’t want to pay the higher contracted price. They wanted to buy the new lower market price.”
“CalAgX can provide businesses with the skills they need to become an international phenomenon,” said CITD Director Alicia Rios. “Not only do the sessions provide real life case studies and examples, the sessions are taught by some of the most esteemed professionals in the export industry.”
Held over a span of six weeks at three different locations, CalAgX is an all-inclusive export training program covering topics such as export logistics, terms of sale, legal and cultural aspects of the exporting industry, export payments and finance and credit insurance. CalAgX participants are well prepared to bring their specialty crops to the global market.
This year, CalAgX is set to take place in Clovis, Salinas and Sacramento. Companies that participate should be at least one year old and have less than two years’ worth of export experience.
The trade agreement includes a number of trade priorities that address such diverse issues as cross-border trade delays, technical dialogue related to beef and organic trade, agricultural cooperative extension outreach, and climate change collaboration.
“Mexico is a vital partner for California agriculture,” said Secretary Ross. “Further collaboration between our countries will enhance the opportunities within the agricultural sector for farmers and ranchers in both of our nations.”
The agreement follows months of dialogue between CDFA and SAGARPA that culminated in a meeting between Secretary Ross and Secretary Enrique Martinez at the Produce Marketing Association trade show in Anaheim at the end of October.
California is the largest agricultural producer and exporter in the nation, with more than $18 billion in food and agricultural exports. Mexico is California’s fifth largest export destination valued at $888 million. Over the last ten years, agricultural exports to Mexico have increased three-fold.