USDA News

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue Jan. 31 announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded $200 million to 57 organizations through the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program to help farmers and ranchers identify and access new export markets.

The ATP is one of three USDA programs created to mitigate the effects of unjustified trade retaliation against United States farmers and exporters. USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service accepted ATP applications between Sept. 4 and Nov. 2—totaling nearly $600 million—from U.S. trade associations, cooperatives and other industry-affiliated organizations.

President Donald Trump authorized up to $12 billion in programs to provide assistance to U.S. agriculture through a trade mitigation package announced by Perdue on Sept. 4, 2018. In addition to the $200 million allocated to the ATP, the package also included the Market Facilitation Program to provide payments to farmers harmed by retaliatory tariffs, and a food purchase and distribution program to assist producers of targeted commodities.

“At USDA, we are always looking to expand existing markets or open new ones, so we are proud to make good on the third leg of the president’s promise to America’s farmers,” Perdue said. “This infusion will help us develop other markets and move us away from being dependent on one large customer for our agricultural products. This is seed money, leveraged by hundreds of millions of dollars from the private sector, that will help to increase our agricultural exports.”

All sectors of U.S. agriculture, including fish and forest product producers, were eligible to apply for cost-share assistance under the ATP. FAS evaluated applications according to criteria that included the potential for export growth in the target market, direct injury from the imposed retaliatory tariffs, and the likelihood that the proposed project or activity will have a near-term impact on agricultural exports.

“We were pleased to see the large demand for participation in the program, and truly got some out-of-the-box ideas that we are hopeful will expand our global footprint,” Perdue said. “We examined all applications carefully, considered our ranking criteria, and awarded the funds in order to make the best use of taxpayer dollars in growing agricultural trade.”

Major recipients include:

  • American Soybean Association, $21,882,165;

  • Cotton Council International, $9,174,190;

  • Food Export Association of the Midwest USA, $13,859,825;

  • U.S. Dairy Export Council, $5,288,194;

  • U.S. Grains Council, $5,288,194;

  • U.S. Meat Export Federation, $17,556,680, and,

  • U.S. Wheat Associates, $8,249,315.

Some groups offered statements about the ATP payments.

USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom said: “USMEF appreciates the Trump administration’s recognition of the extremely competitive environment U.S. agricultural products face in the global marketplace, and how changes in trading partners’ tariff rates can put these products at a significant disadvantage. As authorized by FAS, this funding will help USMEF and other organizations defend existing market share and develop new destinations for U.S. agricultural products, which is especially important at a time when trade disputes and preferential trade agreements have further intensified competition in many key markets.”

U.S. Wheat Associates and the National Association of Wheat Growers issued a joint statement, with Chris Kolstad, USW chairman and a wheat grower from Ledger, Montana, leading off.

“U.S. wheat growers are facing tough times right now with the impact of retaliatory tariffs putting a strain on the export market and threatening many decades worth of market development,”Kolstad said. “We appreciate the recognition that farmers need help to manage this additional risk. This program is a positive step forward and our people are ready to get to work.”

NAWG president and Sentinel, Oklahoma, wheat farmer Jimmie Musick said, “With the United States exporting half of the wheat crop it grows, programs like the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program are crucial for our farmers to remain competitive in the global market.

“We welcome today’s news that our sister organization U.S. Wheat Associates was awarded significant funding for trade mitigation activities. This funding will provide some relief to the adverse impact wheat has felt since U.S. placed tariffs on Chinese goods, opening the door for retaliation. We hope to see these affected markets opened again quickly.”

Larry Dreiling can be reached at 785-628-1117 or ldreiling@hpj.com.

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