SC Commissioner Weathers: NASDA Trade Trip to Morocco

SC Ag Commissioner Hugh Weathers is just back from Morocco. Let’s hear about why you were there.

I visited as part of a trade delegation with the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, or NASDA.

Morocco presents some interesting agricultural trade opportunities for American farmers.

This country in northern Africa holds the only free trade agreement with the U.S. on the continent.

It’s a business-oriented society with some interesting multicultural facets. In one sense, it’s the gateway to Africa for American agriculture.

We visited a milling and bakery school established by U.S. Wheat Associates.

We visited a training center built by the Moroccan government for the poultry, beef, and dairy sectors, and talked about demand for US feed grains in the poultry industry.

We also met with several key agricultural and trade officials, and some very successful business leaders who want to use our products.

The US exports soybeans, corn, and wheat to Morocco, along with items like tree nuts (they’re big almond consumers) and dairy products.

NASDA and the Foreign Agricultural Service identified the US products with the best sales potential there as feed grains (corn and DDGS), soybeans and soybean meal, dried fruit and nuts, rice, dairy products, live animals and genetics, pulses, poultry, meat, animal fats, beer, and spirits.

For South Carolina farmers specifically, I think there’s a lot of opportunity for peanuts and soybean meal. For the specialty foods producers, there are also some follow-up discussions we should have.

While I was in Morocco, I got to do some sightseeing in Rabat, and visited cities you’ve probably heard of, like Casablanca. I also took some time off to visit Marrakech and the Atlas Mountains near where the earthquake occurred in September.