The U.S. farm income hit a new record of $77.5 billion in 2004, despite extensive bans on U.S. and beef and poultry which spanned most of the year, and  a string of natural disasters, according to Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman. This figure exceeded last year’s total, which was a record year as well, by $9 billion.

In addition, there are $233.4 billion in farmer cash receipts. The secretary said the farm economy’s strength spanned all sectors, and noted that such strength would “improve the outlook of rural economies.”

Under Secretary J.B. Penn also gave an update on Asian trade summarizing the current standing of several countries visited during negotiations to reopen borders to U.S. beef and beef products. Penn noted that $1.7 billion of trade suspended after the one case of BSE was discovered, has been recovered, a remaining 41 percent of the market remains closed.

Japan will revisit the ‘interim trade program’ of trade in animals 20 months and under in July 2005. Taiwan is conducting an internal review of U.S. surveillance systems. A Taiwanese delegation will visit the U.S. on Nov. 14 for a week-long trip to perform due diligence.

Internal consultations on the resumption of trade between the United States and Korea has begun. Low-risk bovine product trade is being examined in China. The poultry ban has been lifted from China as well.