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U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has renewed their bilateral agreements with several countries in the Western Hemisphere.  Through each Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), former Secretary Ann M. Veneman created a bilateral Consultative Committee on Agriculture (CCA).  The goal of the CCA is to increase communication and coordination in a number of areas, including market access, food safety, research, technical assistance, and standards setting.  Currently, there are five CCAs in South America:  Peru, Colombia, Uruguay, Brazil, and Argentina.

The Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) is the lead coordinating agency, but ARS has participated.  No specific funding has been designated for the activities under the CCA; however, there are some possible opportunities for outside funds, depending on the country.  Therefore, it is critical that ARS' mission is well represented. 

As a result of the CCA, ARS has held discussions with the Colombian Ministry of Agriculture regarding ARS mission, organization, and 22 national research programs.   The vast ongoing bilateral collaborations that exist are mainly scientist-to-scientist and may remain at an informal level or are specific in nature.  The CCA creates a venue to rejuvenate existing formal organizational relationships and better coordinate new opportunities.  Many areas of research would be classified as ones of mutual interest; however, each institution has committed to identify priorities that are not only of mutual interest, but are also strategic.

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