Friday, August 15, 2008

Texas-Mexico Agriculture Exchange Program Builds Bridges

This week I traveled to Coeur d'alene, Idaho to meet with secretaries of agriculture from other states, Mexico and Canada to discuss agricultural trade and development issues at the Tri-National Accord. Discussions between representatives of the U.S. and Mexico focused on ways to improve the protocol for live cattle trade in order to move toward fully normalized trade of healthy livestock. Agricultural leaders from the three nations also discussed the need to work together for improved communication in food safety protocols and highlighted areas of concern to all of our producers.

United States Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Nancy Montanez Johner also briefed the group on current efforts by USDA in nutrition programs. She highlighted the work Texas is doing on health and nutrition initiatives to develop a healthier future for our state.

Also at the meeting, I met with the General Director of the Agricultural Development Corporation of Nuevo Leon, Fermin Montes Cavazos, to sign the Memorandum of Understanding between the Texas Department of Agriculture and the Nuevo Leon Department of Agriculture to establish the Texas-Mexico Agriculture Exchange Program. This opportunity will benefit agricultural leaders in both Texas and Mexico.

Under the exchange program, education and insight will be exchanged to improve understanding between Mexico and U.S. producers on agricultural production and trade in both countries. The program also involves reciprocal visits for young agribusiness professionals from each state. Participants will be given the opportunity to work with organizations that match their experience and requirements with host agricultural operations and industries.

Mexico is Texas' largest trading partner. Providing opportunities for the best and brightest from Texas and Nuevo Leon to learn from each other will advance the agricultural industry and provide superior service for consumers. The first exchange is set for spring of 2009.

Meeting with delegates from our neighboring states and countries was a good step to continue development of markets for Texas products and establish valuable relationships with other agriculture leaders.

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