USDA reaffirms partnership with IICA and promotes science-based standards

By Asia Sherman

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / alffoto
© Getty Images / alffoto

Related tags: Agricultural economics

The US has called upon the Ministers of Agriculture of the Americas, meeting this week in San Jose, Costa Rica, to support agricultural producers with science-based guidelines and standards.

“Every day, agricultural producers in our Americas face the immense challenge of feeding a growing population. Here, at the United States Department of Agriculture, our guiding principle, as declared by our Secretary of Agriculture, is: ‘Do right and feed everyone’," ​said Ted McKinney, Under Secretary of Agriculture for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The Under Secretary explained that the guiding principle, although simple, illustrates the US commitment to work with its partners to find solutions to combat food insecurity and promote healthy diets through science-based technologies and innovation.

“The US believes that we have an opportunity to continue supporting our producers through the use of science-based guidelines - let me underscore that, science-based guidelines and standards – that both promote the quality and safety of our food systems but also facilitate international trade, and both are critical. This enables progress for all of us in the Western Hemisphere and the Americas,” ​he said.

McKinney also reaffirmed the joint work with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), whose mission is to stimulate, promote and support the efforts of its member states to achieve agricultural development and rural wellbeing through international technical cooperation.

2019 Meeting of Ministers of Agriculture of the Americas

This year’s Meeting of Ministers of Agriculture of the Americas, October 29 to 31, gathered ministers of agriculture and livestock from the 34 IICA member states to address key issues affecting the world’s food supply.

On the agenda were discussions on rural inclusion in the digital era, equilibriums between productivity and sustainability, the interaction of health, safety and international trade and other issues related to food insecurity and mass migration.

The meeting also provided a framework for the meeting of the Inter-American Board of Agriculture (IABA), IICA’s highest governing body. It has organized biannual meetings since 1981, and the October meeting is the first since Manuel Otero joined as Director General of IICA in January 2018.

In the lead-up to the meeting, Otero met with McKinney in September in Washington, DC, where the two discussed consensus building to adopt measures that could contribute to fostering trade in agricultural products through transparent, science-based standards, as well as to eliminating non-tariff barriers.

“Together, we will discuss areas of consensus to support the expansion of sectoral trade,”​ Otero said following the visit, noting that IICA has been working closely with the USDA to foster the intensive use of technology to increase productivity and the dissemination of Codex Alimentarius standards.

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