Job creation. Economic growth. And of course, health care reform.


President Barack Obama focused on the major issues facing the country during his first State of the Union speech on Jan. 27, but his message also addressed topics that could affect agricultural and food industries.


President Obama announced an ambitious plan to double exports in five years, and focused on growers and small businesses with the National Export Initiative.


Fruit and vegetable growers are keen to find new export markets, and the government’s Market Access Program helps them create demand for numerous commodities. An earlier plan to cut the MAP program 20% — proposed by the Obama administration — was scuttled, but in times of tighter federal budgets, that export program could see cuts in the future.


Even as Obama proposed the ambitious export initiative, an ongoing trade dispute with Mexico affects potatoes, pears and other fresh produce commodities.


That dispute led to a 20% duty on pears and other items shipped to Mexico, and U.S. table grapes still face a 45% import fee.


It’s been 10 months since Mexico enacted the tariffs.


Hope for better export markets is a grand plan for 2010, but some grower-shippers are still waiting for 2009 issues to be resolved.


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