Newhouse hails $200M in USDA awards to improve nation’s agricultural trade efforts

U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) last week commended action by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to further bolster support for America’s agricultural trade industry.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue on Jan. 31 announced that 57 organizations received USDA awards totaling $200 million through the department’s Agricultural Trade Promotion Program (ATP), which helps U.S. agricultural exporters develop new markets and ease the effects of other countries’ tariff and non-tariff barriers.

“Secretary Perdue’s announcement of increased support for agriculture trade is good news for farmers affected by unfair trade retaliation across the nation and in the Pacific Northwest,” Rep. Newhouse said. “This increase helps to mitigate some of the losses suffered by local producers.”

Secretary Perdue said on Jan. 31 that the USDA consistently investigates ways to expand existing markets or open new ones to trade.

“This infusion will help us develop other markets and move us away from being dependent on one large customer for our agricultural products,” Perdue said. “This is seed money, leveraged by hundreds of millions of dollars from the private sector, that will help to increase our agricultural exports.”

The ATP provides cost-share assistance to eligible U.S. organizations for myriad activities, including advertising, public relations, participation in trade fairs and exhibits, market research, and technical assistance. All sectors of U.S. agriculture, including fish and forest product producers, may vie for ATP funding, largely through public-private partnerships.

The ATP is also one of three USDA programs in President Donald Trump’s $12 billion trade mitigation package created to lessen the effects of trade retaliations taken against U.S. farmers and exporters. In addition to the $200 million allocated last week to the ATP, the package also included the Market Facilitation Program, which provided payments to farmers harmed by retaliatory tariffs, and a food purchase and distribution program, which assists producers of targeted commodities.

For the ATP funds, the department’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) accepted ATP applications between Sept. 4, 2018 and Nov. 2, 2018 from U.S. trade associations, cooperatives and other industry-affiliated organizations.

“I have been a strong supporter of trade and export market development programs to even the playing field and strengthen American agriculture’s ability to compete for international customers,” Rep. Newhouse said.

For instance, the congressman during the previous session of Congress led 43 bipartisan members in expressing support to U.S. House Agriculture Committee leaders for the USDA trade and export market development programs at the FAS.

“Specifically, we ask that you consider the importance of the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development Program (FMD) and ask that you reauthorize these vital trade promotion programs,” in the 2018 Farm Bill, according to an April 10, 2018 letter that Rep. Newhouse and his colleagues sent to committee leaders.

“For decades, USDA export development programs like MAP and FMD have helped American farmers create, expand, and maintain access to foreign markets,” wrote the lawmakers. “Throughout their history, this successful public-private partnership has cultivated hundreds of billions of dollars in exports, and created millions of American jobs, both in the agriculture sector and in support industries.”

Rep. Newhouse and his colleagues added that without private contributions and other support from the private sector, “it is very likely that the United States would not be the net agricultural exporter that we are today.”