Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk announced today that U.S. producers are now eligible to ship a larger array of U.S. beef and beef products to Chile. The market opening in Chile follows months of bilateral meetings between officials from the Chilean government, USDA and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. President Obama recently visited Chile to meet with Chilean leaders to discuss how the United States can create jobs in America by deepening our economic relationship and expanding exports to South America.

"This action by the government of Chile will provide Chilean consumers with greater access to safe, high-quality U.S. beef," Vilsack said. "Since day one, the Obama Administration has remained committed to removing barriers to trade, expanding market access for U.S. farmers and ranchers, and lowering tariffs on U.S. agricultural goods. These negotiations were based on a mutual respect for international, science-based standards, and USDA will continue to work with other nations to open their markets to U.S. beef based on the same, internationally-accepted principles."

"Expanding our market for U.S. beef exports to Chile is an important advance," said Kirk. "Having just attended the meetings between President Obama and President Pinera in Chile, I know how vibrant and deep our trade relationship is. The commitment of Chile and the United States to work together to promote science-based trade rules while providing our consumers with safe and wholesome foods is a win-win for both countries."

The United States exported approximately $6.2 million in beef and beef products to Chile in 2010. Worldwide, the United States exported nearly $4.1 billion of beef and beef products in calendar year 2010, up 32 percent from 2009. The value of U.S. beef exports for 2010 was on par with beef trade figures preceding 2004, when bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was discovered in December 2003 in a cow that had been exported from Canada to Washington State. Since that time, USDA has worked hard to regain market access for U.S. beef and beef products around the world. Currently, more than 100 markets are open to U.S. beef.

U.S. farm exports, including beef and beef products, reached an all-time high of $115.8 billion in calendar year 2010. The most recent forecast for U.S. farm exports in fiscal year 2011 (Oct. 1, 2010 – Sept. 30, 2011) anticipates a record $135.5 billion in sales for products from U.S. farmers, ranchers and processors, which would support more than 1.1 million jobs. The U.S. agricultural trade surplus is expected to reach a record $47.5 billion in fiscal year 2011.

The market expansion in Chile also underscores USDA's aggressive trade strategy, which emphasizes removal of trade barriers through enhanced trade negotiation and enforcement, and promotion of U.S. exports. Today's announcement also highlights how U.S. agriculture is playing an important role in support of President Obama's National Export Initiative, or NEI, which kicked-off in 2010 to coordinate federal efforts to double U.S. exports by the end of 2014.