Agricultural exports will increase by 30 percent over the next decade, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) projections. This is due in part to global population growth and a rise in demand for food and fiber. That’s why the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA), the World Trade Center Kentucky, and the University of Kentucky are working diligently to help the state’s producers and agribusinesses capitalize on that demand.
The state Department of Agriculture collaborates with USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Southern United States Trade Association, and the American Hardwood Export Council to help companies with market research, rebranding for foreign markets, financing, logistics, navigating bureaucratic hurdles, and even travel costs to trade shows and trade missions. “The main things most exporters ask are: ‘What do I have to do to get it over there?’ ‘What paperwork do I need to get it over there?’ and ‘How do I get paid?’ ” says Jonathan Van Balen, Import/ Export Advisor for KDA.
Along with organizing trade and business missions to explore new markets or expand existing markets for Kentucky products, the World Trade Center Kentucky offers workforce development and trade education to agriculture-based companies. Ed Webb, president and CEO of World Trade Center Kentucky, says the trade education and advice the organization offers is especially beneficial to small and mid-sized agribusinesses. “There are many small to mid-sized companies that don’t have a full-time trade specialist, and as a client of the Kentucky World Trade Center, they don’t need one. As a partner, they have access to the resources of the World Trade Center, the U.S. Commercial Services, the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, the Small Business Association, EXIM Bank, and others,” Webb says.
The University of Kentucky’s Agricultural Leadership Program helps prepare future ag leaders for international trade success.
“Our role is to provide educational information and research to aid any potential exporter,” says Will Snell, extension professor and co-director of the Kentucky Agricultural Leadership Program.
The university is part of an emerging team with the KDA, Kentucky ag commodity/farm organizations, and the World Trade Center Kentucky to develop a better system to assist Kentucky agribusinesses and farmers who want to enter or expand in the export market.