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Posts Tagged ‘Mexico’

Say what you want about the United States government, but for a data-head like me, the offices, departments, and bureaus that comprise the executive department offer a wealth of numbers, figures, and reports that make me positively giddy.

Beside the charts, tables, and figures, the data put out by the United States government lead can reveal new discoveries (at least for me).

Our case study for this post comes courtesy of the Department of Agriculture and its report which is the second outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade for the Fiscal Year 2013 (Link to the actual report, in PDF form, is here.).

You can view the report in all its total glory for yourself, but here are the items of interest I took from it. For those of you playing along at home, all the facts and figures I will be spouting from this point forward are from Fiscal Year 2012 (that would be from September 2011 to September 2012…I have no idea why the government can’t stick to a calendar year, but I guess that’s a thought for another post).

Agricultural products are one class of items where the United States has a surplus of trade. In other words, we ship out (export) more things of an agricultural nature than we ship in (import). In Fiscal Year 2012, the U.S. exported $135.8 billion worth of agricultural good while importing $103.4 billion.

So what are the big items that America exports to the world?

The number one item, according to the report, and this was a surprise to me, was soybeans. The United States exported $19.797 billion of the legume best known for being turned into tofu.

Second on the list was corn ($11.420 billion) followed by wheat ($8.353 billion).

An item I found of interest can be found under the heading “Livestock products”. Not sure why I should be surprised given the number of cattle in the Lower 48 (90.8 million head as of January 1, 2012), but I was surprised to see that a major export of the red-white-and-blue is “hide, skins, and furs” which racked up $2.764 billion in exports, which was more than rice ($1.988 billion) and unmanufactured tobacco ($1.052 billion). That’s a large amount of leather.

What countries are the largest receivers of American agricultural goods?

China takes the top spot as it paid $23.359 billion in exports, which comes out to 17.2%. A close second is our neighbor to the north, Canada, which took in $20.008 billion of our agri-goods. Mexico ranks third ($18.890 billion). Those three nations comprise 45.8% of the countries we export to.

Of note, and I will come back to it later, is the figure that India welcomed in $764 million of American agricultural products.

Looking at the other side of the ledger are imports. What are the biggest items, in terms of dollar value, that the United States ships or trucks in?

Those of you who need your daily jolt of java can be thanked for the fact that coffee beans (and other products) takes the top spot as America imports $7.789 billion of the stuff.

The silver medal goes to the fresh fruit category ($7.618 billion) and the bronze is awarded to fresh vegetables ($5.831 billion). I take this mean that American do in fact know how to eat healthy.

What are the Big Thee countries that the United States imports from?

Canada takes the top spot as the number one import partner as the country with the provinces sends us $20 billion worth of agri-stuff.

The European Union (yes, I realize they are not a country, but I’m only going with what the USDA has provided) sends us $16.6 billion and Mexico comes in third at $16.3 billion.

And know you know.

India (I told you I would come back to this) enjoys a large imbalance of trade with us when it comes to agricultural products. In Fiscal Year 2012, the United States imported $5.4 billion. That means that America imported in $4.636 billion (there’s your number for the day) more worth of agri-goods from India than they bought from us. Just for reference, the United States enjoys a surplus of $19.059 with China when it comes to agricultural items.

So what the heck is the United States buying from India? The USDA report has the answer. From page 11, it says…

From India, the chief imports include food thickeners (mucilages), spices, cashew nuts, and essential oils.

Over five billion dollars is a vast amount of thickeners, saffron, curry, and crunchy nuts.

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This is my response to the theme of solitary from WordPress’s Weekly Photo Challenge.

From my shoebox of digital photos comes this snapshot taken during our family’s January 2009 vacation in Cancun, Mexico.

I mostly remember this trip because it got us out of the nation’s capital during the Barack-alypse, when traffic and crowd levels were going to be off the charts with the inauguration of President Barack Obama. I was able to enjoy the sun, surf, and sand while my neighbors were shivering in the winter of Northern Virginia.

Anyway, back to the theme, and while “solitary” can mean a person being all alone in a room, I offer up a person engaging in a solitary pursuit.

Treasure hunting in the ocean

Hunting solo

I had seen people with metal detectors before combing the beach for keys and lost nickels, but I had never seen one in the tide before. Best of luck to him. I wonder if he had any one to share his bounty with.

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With just over a baker’s dozen of months left before the 2012 presidential election, the debate among the Republicans vying for the job of Chief Executive is kicking into gear. Recently, one candidate made news for stating he would be open to sending American troops into another country. This tends to happen to presidential candidates in debates.

With candidates for the highest office in the United States talking about the “What Ifs?”, I thought it would be an appropriate time to dust off this ceditra entry from December 4, 2000, where my random process (no military intervention required) for finding subjects to write about landed me on this line from the Bible:

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But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him a daughter.

On first reading, this quote, from 2 Samuel 12:3, reminds me of the sick stereotype of lonely farmers and the available, if not always willing, sheep. It’s not hard to take this view when you read about a lamb eating with the guy, drinking from his cup, laying in his bosom (and I didn’t even know guys had bosoms), and being treated like a daughter. At least this passage doesn’t say how much he loved that little lamb.

But there is a far more serious bent to this random selection.

The serious side to this passage arrives when the whole chapter is read. This selection shows the power of the analogy in getting a point across. In this chapter, the prophet Nathan is telling King David about the two men: one rich and one poor. The rich man has lots of sheep and the poor man is described in the selection above. When a traveller comes to the rich man, this wealthy gentleman takes the poor man’s lamb to serve as dinner for the traveller. Upon hearing this, David exclaims that the rich man should be put to death for his sin. This is where Nathan springs his trap because he informs the king that he is the rich man and that despite having lots of women (sheep) at his disposal, David chose Bathsheba (the poor man’s lamb) and had her husband, Uriah (the poor man) killed.

The king fell into the common trap of responding too quickly to a hypothetical question. A person who brings up such an imaginary scenario and asks for an opinion is usually playing an angle. The trap is to get the person to answer the hypothetical situation in one way and then to spring the real situation on the answerer and show how they contradict themselves.

Former President Bush (George the First), as I recall, never answered a reporter’s hypothetical or “What If…” questions. I don’t think President #41 was relying on this passage, but it’s still good advice.

Be wary how you answer imaginary situations because those hypothetical scenarios can quickly become real and your opinion is already known.
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Back to 2011 and that is still good advice for a candidate for elected office. However, it also comes with an extra ingredient that was not around in 2000: YouTube. With this video sharing site, everything a candidate utters in answering a “What If…” question is recorded and saved for future reference.

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Today marks the bicentennial of Mexican independence.

It was on this day two hundred years ago, September 16, 1810, that a parish priest by the name of Miguel Hidalgo gave a speech in the town of Dolores rallying his congregants to take up arms and fight against harsh Spanish rule. This speech became known as the “Cry of Dolores” and it is credited with sparking the drive towards Mexican independence.

Let’s give three cheers for the idea of one man speaking out against tryanny.
Let’s give three cheers for a man standing up for what he believes in.

Let’s also remember that six months after the cry, Hidalgo was captured, executed by a firing squad, decapitated, ans his head served as a warning to others for ten years as it hung outside the Alhondiga de Granaditas in Guanajuato.

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