The U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing $1.3 billion for a new export promotion and foreign market development program, which is called the Regional Agricultural Promotion Program. The funds are intended to allow American farmers to continue supplying the world while growing new markets that will create trade opportunities around the globe.
The money will come from the the Commodity Credit Corporation and is being done at the request of Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Ranking
Member Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), who has urged the USDA to provide additional program funds in the absence of a new farm bill. It seems more likely than ever for the current bill to be extended into the new year while a new bill continues to be debated.
“This infusion of funds is a necessary and welcome development,” said Lorena Alfaro, Executive Director of the U.S. Agricultural Export Development Council. “American farmers and producers use every dollar from these export promotion programs to educate foreign buyers about the quality of U.S. products. Market development programs have been shown to return over $24 in net export revenue for every dollar invested, making these some of the most effective government programs out there.”
National Hog Farmer has reported that ag groups have placed a high priority on expanding funding for the Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development Program, both of which have been stagnant for over 16 years. Funding for the programs officially ended Sept. 30, but approved projects will continue to receive money through the end of 2023. Stakeholders have called for funding for both programs to be doubled in order to make up for the toll of inflation over the past decade and a half.
This new investment will continue our critical work started under the Agricultural Trade Promotion program and explore new ways to advance nutrition, sustainability and economic growth through American products, services, and collaborations,” said Jim Sutter, CEO of the U.S. Soybean Export Council. “At a time when global competition is increasing and conflicts remain, the work ahead is critical.”
The Regional Agricultural Promotion Program was teased last month as a possibility after Stabenow sent a letter to Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack expressing the need for improved trade, but few details had yet been ironed out. Recently, organizations representing wheat growers and California’s almond industry have spoken positively about the move, and it is expected that more information will be made available soon.
Said said U.S. Wheat Associates Chairman and Oklahoma wheat farmer Michael Peters: “We appreciate the introduction of the new Regional Agricultural Promotion Program, and the USW team will work very hard to use it effectively. Looking ahead, global wheat trade is increasingly competitive and market development takes time and consistency. That’s why we believe that in the long-term, increases for established Farm Bill export development programs are the best way forward.”
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Author: Ryan Tipps