Partnerships are flourishing between US states and the island nation of New Zealand. On August 30, 2018, Western Growers, which represents family farms in Arizona, California, Colorado, and New Mexico, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Agritech New Zealand. The new partnership will help both institutions fulfill their shared mission of providing new opportunities for their farmers in each other’s markets and sharing best cultivation practices. Agritech New Zealand, which was founded in 2018, represents a growing awareness within New Zealand that a closer partnership with the United States, and especially California, will help New Zealand expand its own agribusiness sector to the benefit of both parties. For example, in March a New Zealand forensics firm began working with US states to determine if cotton that was being used by US brands had been farmed using slave labor to prevent conflicts of interest.
Earlier in August, the 16th Southeast Asia US Agriculture Cooperators Conference brought together 180 participants to discuss opportunities for expansion in both markets’ soybeans, corn, and wheat products. Negotiations concerning over 1.1 million metric tons of US agricultural products were conducted at the conference.
The importance of Southeast Asia as a market for US agricultural products has not been lost on the sponsors of the conference. During the conference, representatives from the U.S. Soybean Export Council traveled to Indonesia, the third largest consumer of US soy products, to discuss ways of improving the quality of exported products. The U.S. Grains Council had reason to celebrate in May when the first shipment of US corn products since a 2016 quarantine were imported by Vietnam. And finally, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service completed a trade mission in July that toured Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. In 2017, agricultural exports to these three countries alone totaled almost $4 billion dollars. Fifteen states and the District of Columbia all sent at least one representative on this delegation.
Sarah Wang is a Programs Coordinator at the East-West Center in Washington.
Image: Soybeans being harvested. Flickr user United Soybean Board.