Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack highlighted recent progress on a number of trade issues with Mexico following a panel discussion with Mexico's Secretary of Agriculture Enrique Martínez y Martínez. The panel was part of the Global Forum on Agro Food Expectations forum in Mexico City. Vilsack's remarks come as Mexico's expanded import ruling to allow increased potato imports from the U.S. goes into effect today. Mexico also recently announced it would expand American beef imports as well. A full range of U.S. beef and beef products can now be exported to Mexico, potentially increasing U.S. beef and beef product exports by $50 million.

At the forum, Vilsack joined Martínez and Canada's Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Gerry Ritz, for a panel discussion entitled: Integration of Agro-Industrial Markets in North America: Challenges and Opportunities. The panelists discussed how the United States, Mexico and Canada can continue to work together to create jobs and economic opportunity for the agricultural industry.

"Mexico is an important strategic ally and a critical economic partner to the United States. In recent months, we have made progress on a number of issues that will help increase economic opportunity for both of our countries," Vilsack said. "The United States and Mexico will continue to build on our strong trade relationships and promote greater market access for our agricultural products."

For decades, two-way agricultural trade between Mexico and the United States has supported good-paying jobs in both countries. This partnership has helped leverage existing supply chains, adding to the economic strength of U.S. and Mexican agriculture.

USDA is continuing to help America's farmers and ranchers reach new markets and increase agricultural exports. In fiscal year 2013, U.S. food and agricultural product exports reached a record $140.9 billion, supporting nearly one million American jobs. U.S. agriculture is on track for another exceptional year, with exports of farm and food products forecasted to reach $142.6 billion worldwide.

Resources in the new farm bill will allow USDA to continue funding for trade promotion and market expansion for U.S. agricultural products overseas. USDA has moved quickly to implement trade promotion programs reauthorized under the 2014 Farm Bill that signed just three months ago. Through the Market Access Program (MAP), USDA has already provided $171.8 million in Fiscal Year 2014 funds to 62 nonprofit organizations and cooperatives to help build commercial export markets for U.S. agricultural products and commodities. Through the Foreign Market Development (FMD) Program, USDA has provided $24.6 million in Fiscal Year 2014 funds to 22 trade organizations to help create, expand, and maintain long-term export markets for U.S. agricultural products.