Ensuring the health and well-being of American consumers, working to preserve market access for American agriculture producers, and protecting the integrity of our environment and natural resources are three of the office's core missions. The office works together with a number of regulatory agencies in a coordinated effort to monitor food safety risks from imported products. We also support American farmers and the agricultural sector by dealing directly with trading partners and supporting negotiations to reduce or eliminate barriers to trade related to food safety, animal health, and plant health.
Codex Alimentarius Commission
Part of the World Health Organization (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Codex is the international food standard setting body which seeks to protect consumers worldwide and ensure fair trade practices in the food trade by developing food standards and guidelines based on scientific analysis. Codex standards are used as benchmarks for national food regulatory policy around the world, particularly in developing countries. As a member of the U.S. Codex Policy Committee, the State Department works with the U.S. Codex Office as well as others in the U.S. government to facilitate global consensus building on standards to ensure safe food.
WTO Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures
We serve on the U.S. delegation to the WTO Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures, which meets three times per year in Geneva, Switzerland. There, the U.S. delegation advocates for improved market access for U.S. agricultural and food products, calls on other countries to abide by their WTO obligations, and defends U.S. agricultural and food safety policies as necessary. In addition to the official WTO meetings, the delegation typically holds bilateral and plurilateral consultations on the margins to discuss trade irritants in a less formal setting. The U.S. Trade Representative takes the lead in WTO SPS Committee negotiations, and the Department of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration, and Environmental Protection Agency also play an integral role.
Worldwide, the United States exported $5.1 billion of beef and beef products in 2011, up 34 percent from 2010. The value of U.S. beef exports for 2011 was on par with beef trade figures preceding 2004, when bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was discovered in December 2003. We, along with efforts led by USTR and USDA, have worked 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.