New markets abroad lure US farmers

With most of the bountiful 1981 farm crops harvested, United States agricultural experts are again scanning the international horizon for customers.

Worldwide competition in crop production and food processing has increased for the US -- especially from member nations of the European Community. A case in point, outlined by US Department of Agriculture officials, are the US farm sales to the Mideast-African countries.

This is one of the world's most rapidly developing markets by several standards. Its growth potential is supported not only by spreading revenues of the African members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, but by generally rising regional incomes, by expansion and modernization of cities, by growing scarcity of arable farmland, and by upgrading of basic diets.

Department of Agriculture economists say the US has been slow to give this area enough hard sell. The consequence has been that sales of American farm products have not kept pace with the economic area growth. US farm trade with the Mideast-African OPEC nations (Algeria, Libya, Nigeria, Gabon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Iran, Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates) in 1972 amounted to 11 percent of those countries' farm imports. In 1979, although there was an increase in total dollar sales, the US market share dropped to 6 percent. The EC picked up some of the slack in 1980 when its sales in this market increased to 20 percent.

Now, through USDA trade team visits and the efforts of US agricultural attaches abroad, farm exports to this region are expected to pick up.

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