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Weekly Trade Spotlight: Trade in Maine

On Thursday, August 5, United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk will be in Maine for the Bangor State Fair. This Weekly Trade Spotlight focuses on Maine’s agricultural industry and the ways in which agricultural trade and exports help support jobs at home.

From plump blueberries to fresh lobsters, Maine is especially well-known for its rich agricultural industry.

The state exported $120 million in agricultural products in 2008, including fruits, vegetables, dairy and poultry. Seafood, however, will always remain near the top of the list of Maine’s specialties.

For Portland Shellfish, Inc., a major processor of Maine lobster, Jonah crab, and shrimp, international exports are a central way of increasing the company’s sales. The 20-year-old company has been exporting since 2000, and has expanded its export markets to include Asia, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and parts of the Middle East.

“We have a strong domestic market, but we have been able to expand business and be more competitive in the market because of our international exports,” Portland Shellfish Export Sales and Marketing Manager Emily Lane said. “The more orders we get from abroad, the more people we can employ at home.”

Because of its strong export sales, Portland Shellfish is able to employ 150 workers here at home, in all sectors of seafood processing.

In fact, throughout the country, agriculture exports remain a strong force behind supporting American jobs – and not just for farmers or harvesters.

Agricultural exports nationwide reached $96.6 billion in 2009 and generated an additional $135 billion in supporting business activity in transportation, distribution, food processing and manufacturing. These exports support approximately 1 million U.S. jobs, on fishing boats, farms and beyond.

Trade is a central part of the agricultural industry, for Maine, and for the rest of the America. Here at USTR, we are working to support and increase agricultural trade, to benefit the farmers, harvesters, processers, transporters and others who thrive on exports.