There are countless reasons why Michigan's food and agriculture companies should consider exporting their products - one of which is 95 percent of the world's consumers live outside of the United States. So, if a company is only selling in the domestic market it's only reaching just a small share of their potential customer base. Current projections are that we will have 9 billion people worldwide to feed by 2050, and because of our production capacity, Michigan can certainly play a role in meeting those needs. To remain competitive and expand their business operations, I would encourage our food and ag business to take a look at their export potential.
Michigan exports almost one-third of the crops grown here, with the top five agricultural exports being soybeans, feed grains, vegetables, fruits, and dairy products. Over 60 percent of all Michigan's agricultural exports went to Canada, our number one export market. Rounding out the top five countries eager for Michigan-grown products were Mexico, Japan, Korea, and China.
The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development's (MDARD) International Marketing Program helps expand agriculture's economic impact in Michigan with exports generating $1.75 billion in 2010. According to USDA's Economic Research Service, there were 14,700 agricultural export-related jobs in Michigan in 2010. Forecasters are already speculating that exports will grow to over $2 billion in 2012 - a good first step as we aim to double our agricultural exports in five years. These figures are proof positive that agricultural exports are helping grow the state's second largest economic sector and giving Michigan a stronger foothold in the global marketplace.
MDARD assists Michigan producers and processors interested in trade opportunities such as entering a foreign market for the first time or expanding their existing markets. MDARD staff organizes and implements activities including export seminars, buyers missions, trade missions, and Michigan Pavilions at selected domestic and international trade shows to showcase Michigan-based companies in the global economy.
Additional assistance is provided through consulting services to food and agriculture firms for market research, trade leads, advice on export pricing, order processing, determining required documentation, international market development policy issues, and identifying and overcoming barriers to market access.
The International Marketing Program also helps Michigan companies tap a variety of federal export assistance programs, including the Branded Program through the Food Export Association of the Midwest USA. This program provides 50 percent reimbursement for marketing and promotional expenses incurred by to expand international sales.