USDA announces billions in new trade promotion funding

On September 22, 2023, in Trade Issues, USDA, by David Elrod

USDA this week announced plans to use up to $2.5 billion in funding from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) for use in trade promotion marketing and international food aid.

USDA noted in its letter notifying the House and Senate Appropriations Committees that approximately $1.379 billion would fund a program known as the Regional Agricultural Promotion Program (RAPP) to help U.S. agricultural producers market products internationally and $1.06 billion would fund commodity-based international food aid.

The announcement follows a letter sent in late August from Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Ranking Member John Boozman (R-AR) requesting “the creation of new and better market opportunities for our nation’s farmers by addressing two key needs: trade promotion, and in-kind international food assistance.”

The full letter can be found here.

Sen. Boozman told Agri-Pulse that the funding could also help bridge a gap in spending for trade promotion in the event the 2018 Farm Bill expires at the end of FY2023.

The funding would effectively continue the Agricultural Trade Promotion program started by former President Donald Trump designed to diversify U.S. agricultural trade away from China.

Separately, members of the House and Senate have sought to include in the 2023 Farm Bill new trade promotion funding for the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program, doubling their funding to $400 million and $69 million, respectively.

Some of the newly announced funding will go to support the MAP and FMD programs.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) told Agri-Pulse that he was pleased to see more money for ag marketing and humanitarian aid, but he stressed he’s not happy about the circumvention of Congress when it comes to funding government programs.

“You know, this is about the balance of power and the checks and balances,” he said and added that CCC spending that’s not directly approved by Congress “further creates a slippery slope of us not operating the way we’re supposed to by the Constitution.”