Department of Agriculture official visits Alaska

USDA Under Secretary Alexis M. Taylor visits Alaska
Published: Jun. 2, 2023 at 12:27 AM AKDT
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PALMER, Alaska (KTUU) - A major official with the United States Department of Agriculture stopped in Alaska on her way to Japan for an agricultural trade mission.

Alexis M. Taylor, the department’s Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, made the visit Thursday, and while in Alaska, Taylor learned more about the unique agricultural exports Alaska has to offer in the international market — everything from fish to flowers.

“I really wanted to understand what Alaska agriculture looks like, what the export potential for those food and agricultural businesses are and understand how we at USDA can continue to support Alaskan agriculture overseas,” Taylor said.

One of the main exports that Taylor mentioned was peonies.

“Peonies are being shipped apparently to 100 countries. And really learning and understanding how the programs that we have at USDA via the Foreign Agricultural Service can help support Alaskan peony farmers in those overseas markets,” Taylor said.

Peonies are a type of flower that require special conditions for it to be able to grow, such as needing snowfall in the winter followed by full sun, making Alaska one of the only places in the world that can grow peonies during the summer months.

“There’s an opportunity for those who grow the flowers to fill that demand for peony flowers during the peak wedding season to the world in July and August, and we can do it right here from Alaska,” Alaska Division of Agriculture Director Bryan Scoresby said.

Taylor also visited a seafood processing facility in Copper River, which she says has been useful in learning about Alaska’s seafood exports before heading to Japan.

“Being able to have just visited with the industry, and talk about with Japanese buyers what Alaska is actually doing, how important sustainability is, and why our fisheries in Alaska are the most sustainable in the world, yet not compromising on that high quality that they’re also looking for,” Taylor said.