The USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service took a trade trip to Madrid, Spain. FAS associate administrator Clay Hamilton led the mission and said it’s very important to make these trips.
“These programs are very important. Not only do they help us maintain and develop contacts, but they give us a chance to build bridges with the people that we work with here. We’ve had a lot of meetings with various groups in Spain, including the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Environment, some biotech groups, and some farmer groups.”
It’s all about establishing common ground for people on both sides of the ocean.
“Farmers all over the world all care about the same three things: they want to produce a quality product, they want to take care of their family, and they want to preserve the land. And so, by bringing these groups together and having these conversations, it helps each side understand that we all have the same things at heart. And the more we can work together, the more we can have these conversations, the smoother trade and things will go for us.”
Trade mission participants make a lot of overseas contacts.
“We’re able to pull together meetings with buyers that we know are interested in our companies. So, it’s a lot simpler and more direct. I think for about half of our companies, it’s their first time to participate in a trade mission, and for many of them, it’s their first time to look at exporting. So, it’s a fantastic way for them to get introduced to the market.”
The mission to Spain was also a chance to discuss trade policies.
“I had very good meetings with the Ministry of Agriculture and some of the other ministries, and I was very pleased with how receptive the Spanish government officials were to listen to our concerns. We shared a lot of the same issues. They have droughts here too, and the farmers are facing a lot of the issues that we are. We talked about the need to address climate change, and I was able to talk about the climate-smart commodity programs and some of the other international activities that we’re encouraging countries to participate in.”