The funding, which forms part of the Commodity Credit Corporation, includes $1.3bn for establishing a Regional Agricultural Trade Promotion Program and $1bn dedicated to commodity-based international food aid.
Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack said: “The Commodity Credit Corporation and USDA’s market development and aid programs are critically important at this time, and with this additional support we can strengthen U.S agriculture’s presence in existing markets, open up new market opportunities, and build on our relationships and connections to ensure that high-quality American agriculture and food products reach where they are needed in the world.”
According to USDA, the agricultural trade deficit for the 2023 fiscal year is $19bn; this is projected to rise to $27.5bn in the next year. Added to this is increased competition in key export markets for the US such as Asia and Africa, providing further justification for investment in export market development.
“Analysis has shown that for every $1 invested in export market development, exports are increased by $24.50,” the USDA said in a statement. “Increased agricultural exports means income directly back to producers. Trade promotion investment helps keep existing markets open and creates access to new markets. Further, investing in non-traditional markets will help the US diversify away from dependence on a handful of large markets.”
The new Regional Agricultural Promotion Program (to be known as RAPP) will allow exports ‘to break into new markets and increase market share in growth markets’. Meanwhile, to bolster international food aid, USDA will purchase commodities from producers and work with the federal agency on international food aid programs USAID to distribute these around the world.
The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), US Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and other agricultural leaders are advocating for Congress to double funding for the Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development program – the two programs have not received a raise in over 16 years, despite offering consistent returns on investment.
Commenting on the announcement, NMPF president and CEO Jim Mulhern said: “The US dairy community is grateful for the USDA’s decision to invest in supporting the cultivation of enhanced international market opportunities for America’s dairy farmers and cooperatives. We thank Senators Stabenow and Boozman for their initiative in encouraging USDA to pursue this course of action.
“Now more than ever, the U.S. dairy industry relies on exports. If distributed to those sectors that are presently underfunded such as dairy, the new export promotion funding will put us in a better position to compete globally and grow our consumer base.
“NMPF encourages Congress to build on today’s announcement by USDA to also deliver additional funding for the Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development Program in the development of the next Farm Bill.”
USDEC president and CEO Krysta Harden added: “We’re thankful that USDA is taking this important step to support American Agriculture and appreciate Senators Stabenow and Boozman elevating the importance of using CCC resources to fund programs that will strengthen the US dairy industry through the creation of new markets and the promotion of nutritional dairy-containing products in food aid. We look forward to continuing to work together to level the playing field for America’s dairy farmers and producers.”