In 2022, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture was awarded $925,000 through the United States Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service Emerging Markets Program. The Emerging Markets Program helps organizations promote exports of U.S. agricultural products to developing countries with strong growth potential.

NASDA’s first Emerging Markets Program trade mission took place in Vietnam on January 9-13, 2023. NASDA President and Wyoming Department of Agriculture Director Doug Miyamoto, Washington State Department of Agriculture Director Derek Sandison, Delaware Secretary of Agriculture Michael Scuse, Texas Department of Agriculture Assistant Commissioner Dan Hunter, NASDA CEO Ted McKinney, and American Feed Industry Association President & CEO Constance Cullman participated in government and industry meetings in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

The delegation kicked off the mission in Hanoi by meeting with the Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, including Vice Minister Phùng Đức Tiến. The meeting covered topics such as the progression of the Vietnamese economy and market access for agricultural products such as animal feed and grapefruit. NASDA emphasized the importance of bilateral trade relations and its support for developing the Vietnamese economy. Before leaving Hanoi, NASDA hosted a reception that included attendees from several Vietnamese businesses with an interest in U.S. agricultural products and government officials. The reception gave NASDA members the opportunity to connect with potential customers of products produced in their respective states.

NASDA continued the mission in Ho Chi Minh City by hosting a luncheon with over 25 Vietnamese business representatives focused on cotton, dairy, grains, beef, tree nuts, lumber, and fresh fruit. Trade delegates also met with Central Retail Vietnam, the Handicraft and Wood Industry Association, and the U.S. Grains Council team focused on Southeast Asia. Each of these visits was valuable for better understanding the growth of the market, the political dynamics of the region, and non-tariff barriers impacting market access for U.S. agriculture.

It is critical that we continue to show up in these markets and that the outreach does not end at the conclusion of the mission. NASDA and the participating trade delegates will build upon connections made and seek answers for potential trade barriers that were identified.

NASDA’s second Emerging Market Program mission was in March to Thailand.  Commissioner Hugh Weathers, Commissioner Doug Goehring, Director Jerry Costello II and New Mexico Marketing Director Jason New joined National Grain and Feed Association President and CEO Mike Seyfert for a week in Bangkok with NASDA.

The group met with the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives as well as leadership from the Office of Agricultural Economics and the Department of Agriculture. The challenges facing Thai agriculture were strikingly similar to those faced by agriculture in the U.S. There were specific requests for help in communicating with FDA and for technical support for Thai cooperatives to generate more value-added opportunities for Thai farmers. The group also toured the Laem Chabang Port Plant Quarantine Station where there was a request from the port leadership for support to improve training for their inspectors.

Over the course of the week, the group met with several Thai businesses in the food and agriculture sector including KCG Corp, Heritage Snacks & Food Co., Jagota Brothers Trading Co., the ASEAN Business Council, and C.P. Group, the largest feed company in the world.

NASDA also hosted a reception at VIV Asia, Asia’s leading international trade show for animal production and processing. The reception included Thai government leaders, Thai importers, U.S. cooperators, and exhibitors from the show. During the reception, Mike Seyfert provided an overview of improvements the U.S. has made and continues to make in the supply chain. As both an importer of U.S. goods and a large exporter to the U.S., delays at ports in the U.S. have caused issues for Thai businesses.

Thanks in large part to the support of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Ag Service post in Bangkok, the mission was a success in building relationships and positioning the US to be Thailand’s preferred trade partner. The week ended with lunch with the U.S. Ambassador to Thailand, Robert F. Godec, who voiced a commitment to expanding opportunities for US agricultural products in the region.

NASDA staff will be working closely to complete additional surveys in the country to inform our next steps. These trips are just the first step in building relationships to grow market opportunities for our producers around the world.