Despite trade wars, there has been new agricultural market development emerging. The USDA made some big announcements regarding assistance to farmers, ranchers and more. Additionally, the U.S. Grains Council is gaining importance across agricultural sectors.
Eyes on Anyone that Eats
The USDA recently announced it awarded $200 million to 57 organizations through the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program. This program was created to help farmers and ranchers identify and access new export markets.
Additionally, it also includes the Market Facilitation Program. This program provides payments to farmers who were harmed by retaliatory tariffs. It also offers a food purchase and distribution program to assist producers of targeted commodities.
All sectors of United States agriculture were eligible to apply for cost-share assistance under the ATP. This also included fish and forest product producers.
“This infusion will help us develop other markets and move us away from being dependent on one large customer for our agricultural products,” said Sonny Perdue, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. “This is seed money, leveraged by hundreds of millions of dollars from the private sector that will help to increase our agricultural exports.”
Applications were evaluated by the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. According to the USDA, applications were evaluated on the basis of potential for export growth in the target market, direct injury from the imposed retaliatory tariffs, and the likelihood of the proposed project or activity having a near-term impact on agricultural exports.
Furthermore, the ATP provides cost-share assistance to eligible U.S. organizations for many activities. These include consumer advertising, public relations, point-of-sale demonstrations, participation in trade fairs and exhibits, market research and technical assistance.
Grains Council Vital for Success
Presently, the U.S. Grains Council is as important as ever. During trade uncertainty, an organization who delivers new opportunities and markets is important to farmers.
Kimberly Atkins, vice president and Chief Operating Officer of the council, said when factors disrupt markets, the work of organizations that try to find and expand new markets becomes even more important.
However, the government shutdown created additional challenges. The U.S. Grains Council depends on government programs such as the USDA’s Market Access Program.
MAP was recently approved in the 2018 Farm Bill. However, Congress has not yet approved funding. With the shutdown, the process was delayed even further.
Given the current trade dispute with China, Atkins said it has brought the work of the council into the light. It has been working to identify and develop markets for corn, ethanol and DDGS in other markets, such as in Japan, India, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Mexico, Canada and Vietnam.
The South Asia and Southeast Asia regions have strong potential, for example, because there are long-term patterns of population growth and income growth which bode well for growing market possibilities, Atkins said.
Atkins feels there has been tremendous growth in those areas. Even so, there are still difficulties. The large number of trade disputes is certainly complicating the issue.
With those disputes and the amount of uncertainty in the world today, the U.S. Grains Council will continue to be an important tool for farmers in the United States, Atkins said.
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During trade conflicts, the USDA has stepped in and announced additional funding through several programs. Perdue said the USDA is looking to expand existing markets and open new ones. In the midst of a trade war, the U.S. Grains Council has become as important as ever. They will continue to work for farmers and the agriculture industry.