The USDA has announced a trade mission to promote U.S. agricultural exports to Russia, Dec. 3-7. Representatives from the states of Idaho, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Kansas, as well as 23 American companies will attend. Two-way agricultural trade between the United States and Russia was valued at roughly $1.5 billion in fiscal year 2012, with American farm exports accounting for 97 percent of the total -- a significant contribution to the U.S. agricultural trade surplus.

Today, only 1 percent of U.S. companies export, and yet 95 percent of the world's consumers live outside the borders of the United States, creating significant opportunities for U.S. food and agriculture. At the same time, the American agricultural economy is experiencing its strongest period in history with record exports and near-record income for farming families, altogether supporting one in 12 jobs in the United States.

"People around the world continue to demand U.S. food and agricultural products, boosting American businesses and supporting our rural communities," said Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse, who will lead the mission. "To ensure these successes continue, USDA has aggressively worked to expand export opportunities and reduce barriers to trade. Less restrictions abroad, stronger trade deals for U.S. agriculture, and greater export assistance for U.S. businesses supports more than 1 million Americans jobs in industries from packing and shipping, to food processing, to transportation. This is an American-made success story that we're bringing to Russia and many other nations demanding the highest-quality, American-grown products."

Exports of U.S. food and agricultural products are expected to reach $143.5 billion in fiscal 2013, well above the record set in 2011, while exports in fiscal year 2012 achieved the second-highest level of all time. Even with tough odds due to extreme weather, U.S. agriculture is delivering for the American economy, putting our nation's agricultural sector on pace to achieve President Obama's goal under the National Export Initiative of doubling exports by the end of 2014.

This Russia trade mission is the second major USDA agricultural trade mission this year for U.S. companies. A successful trade mission to China was held in March. Companies attending the Russia trade mission represent a wide variety of agricultural products including cattle, meat and poultry, fruit and nuts, consumer-oriented products and more.

USDA's goal is to provide participants with first-hand market information, access to government decision makers and one-on-one meetings with business contacts, potential agents, distributers and importers so they can position themselves to enter or expand their presence in the Russian market.

With its recent World Trade Organization (WTO) accession and rapidly expanding economy, Russia is an important market for U.S. agricultural products. Top U.S. exports include red meat, poultry, live cattle and tree nuts.

For a complete list of U.S. companies participating in the Russia agricultural trade mission:

1. Alltech, Inc.

2. Case New Holland.

3. Cuba Beverage Company.

4. Commercial Lynks, Inc.

5. Erie Foods International.

6. Food Source, Inc.

7. Garuda International, Inc.

8. Holder Brothers Beef.

9. Idaho Potato Commission.

10. IMG Citrus.

11. Intervision Foods.

12. Landi Organic Baby.

13. Missouri State University.

14. Mixes, Inc.

15. National Raisin.

16. Ocean Spray International Services.

17. Original Juan Specialty Foods.

18. Pan-European Trade Enterprises, LLC.

19. Rabbit Creek Products.

20. Stamey Cattle Company, LLP.

21. Stunning Global, LLC.

22. Thorn Creek Insurance Services.

23. United Dairymen of Arizona.