FAS Reorganization Implementation Begins
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The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service
(FAS) has the primary responsibility for USDA’s international activities. FAS'
staff of more than 700 employees is stationed in Washington, DC, and in about 80
countries around the world. The agency works to expand and maintain exports for
U.S. agricultural, fish, and forest products; supports international economic
development and trade capacity building; and improve the sanitary and
phytosanitary (SPS) system to facilitate trade.
Since the agency was established in 1953, the world agricultural trade
picture has changed significantly. To address these changes and new challenges
FAS conducted a top-to-bottom review of what the agency does, how effective it
functions, and what could be done better. Some of the concerns identified
included: effectively supporting the agriculture sector during trade agreement
negotiations; developing strategies in response to the emergence of "giants"
like China and Brazil; and managing the trade impact of international food
safety scares like AI and BSE. The review process included input from employees,
private sector trade groups, and program participants. This effort pointed out
the need for a new strategic focus for FAS and a realignment of functions and
personnel to increase the effectiveness of the agency.
The FAS reorganization plan was approved on August 30, 2006, and
implementation begins on November 13, 2006.
Goals of Reorganization
The reorganization focuses on inherently governmental activities such as:
Building on FAS' strength in commodity analysis to do a better job of
analyzing how U.S. exports may be affected by developments such as foreign
import bans, new trade agreements, and new technologies like biotechnology
More effectively linking the country expertise of FAS overseas offices
with an increased focus in Washington on key countries and regions.
Providing program participants with better, streamlined, and transparent
Grouping staff members into single, focused work units with clearly
Strengthening FAS' ability to monitor and enforce trade agreements and
to support the dispute settlement efforts of the U.S. Trade Representative's
Placing special emphasis on identifying and resolving SPS issues that
- Providing better support, both at home and abroad, to USDA regulatory
agencies that are essential partners in resolving foreign SPS issues.
- Focusing USDA international development and trade capacity work on
building relationships with foreign governments for quicker informal
solutions to trade disruptions.
Realignment into Three Key Areas
Four major organizational components focus on FAS' policy functions.
The Office of Scientific and Technical Affairs (OSTA) provides
the industry with a portal for issues related to SPS, technical barriers to
trade (TBT), and market access work. USDA takes a lead role as the U.S.
enquiry point under the World Trade Organization's SPS Agreement and
prepares and tracks foreign country submissions for U.S. SPS determinations.
The Office of Country and Regional Affairs (OCRA) develops
strategies to support bilateral negotiations and informal dispute settlement
processes. OCRA analyzes agricultural, trade, macroeconomic, financial
policies, and country positions on issues under negotiations. OCRA also
prepares focused analysis on key countries and regions of the world and
provides a strong link to the expertise of FAS' unique network of overseas
The Office of Negotiations and Agreements (ONA), in consultation
with USTR, develops trade policy and strategy for international trade
negotiations. ONA monitors trade agreement compliance and provides support
for dispute settlements. The group also helps coordinate USDA policy
positions in international organizations.
The Office of Global Analysis (OGA) focuses on cross-cutting
analysis on programs, policies, and industry-wide issues to support USDA's
trade agenda. OGA also manages FAS global production, supply, and demand
data and analysis.
Two program areas concentrate on trade capacity building and agricultural
development in developing nations and administer export and import programs.
In keeping with the President's National Security Strategy, the
Office of Capacity Building and Development (OCBD) carries out
activities that are in line with U.S. international economic development
goals. OCBD operates food aid programs and trade, science, and regulatory
capacity building projects, including training and technical assistance
programs, and supports USDA’s post-conflict, post-disaster reconstruction
The Office of Trade Programs (OTP) administers programs that support
marketing efforts, especially those carried out by the U.S. private sector,
including the Market Access Program, the Foreign Market Development Program,
Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops, and the Quality Samples Program.
OTP also administers the export credit guarantee and Dairy Export Incentive
Programs. Import programs include those for sugar, dairy, and trade
Two areas focus on operations. The Office of Foreign Service
Operations supports overseas Foreign Service staff, while the Office of
Administrative Operations supports Washington headquarters staff.
The Office of the Administrator includes the Civil Rights Staff and the
Offices of Legislative and Public Affairs.
For information on the reorganization and to determine contact points for all
programs needs, visit the FAS website at
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