Linking The Future of Agriculture

FAS Japan, Iowa state and Yamanashi Prefecture officials, and several U.S. cooperators are working on an exciting series of events entitled “Partners in Agriculture.” The events will run from March through mid-summer 2010 and will take place in Japan. “Partners in Agriculture” aims to commemorate the success of the cooperator program, the special agricultural relationship between the United States and Japan, the famous “hog lift,” the 50th anniversary of the Grains Council, and the 50th anniversary of the Iowa-Yamanashi sister-state relationship. The focal point of the celebration will take place in Kofu, the capital of Yamanashi Prefecture, on April 8 and 9. FAS Japan is petitioning for Ministerial-level participation of Agricultural officials from both countries for key events.

Since 1946, the United States has exported over $280 billion worth of food and agricultural products to this small but densely-populated, and wealthy island nation.  The genesis of this tremendous market can be traced back to the famous “hog lift,” when in 1959 Iowa farmers and FAS assisted Yamanashi in recovering its hog industry after two typhoons devastated the prefecture.   The people-to-people legacy of the “hog lift” has been equally impressive.  Iowa and Yamanashi Prefecture established a sister-state relationship in 1960, the first of its kind between the United States and Japan. 

The “hog lift” experience helped lay the foundation for the U.S. Grains Council, which set up its first overseas office in Japan in 1961. The access to high quality feed led to the development of the Japanese domestic meat industry. This provided the incentive for U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) to open its first overseas office in Japan in 1977. There are now about fifty cooperators active in the Japanese market. 

Japan is the perfect example of how the partnership between FAS and cooperators has been one of the most successful public-private partnerships in the United States, facilitating billions of dollars in U.S. agricultural exports and creating millions of jobs. Today, Japan is our largest commercial market for feed grains and pork, for wheat, potatoes and rice, and will return to being our largest market for beef. It is also the world’s largest net importer of consumer ready food products. Japan’s purchases have been essential contributors to the health of the U.S. economy and will continue to be critical for U.S. agriculture in the future.