The government will provide up to $300 million for the first year of a new program to build food and ag export sales in nontraditional markets, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday. The USDA has committed $1.2 billion over five years for the Regional Agricultural Promotion Program (RAPP) after the second year in a row of declining ag exports.
“It takes significant investment to open and develop new export markets, and this new fund will be dedicated to helping provide that start-up capital so that American exporters can diversify their markets and create new opportunities,” said Vilsack. The largest customers for U.S. farm exports — China, Mexico, Canada, and the European Union — are excluded from marketing campaigns using RAPP funding.
Special emphasis will be given in the first tranche of funding for work in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and South and Southeast Asia. The USDA said $25 million would be reserved for Africa.
On Thursday, the USDA is scheduled to update its forecast of food and ag exports this fiscal year, estimated in August at $172 billion, the third-highest total ever. The record year for exports was fiscal 2022, with $196.1 billion in sales, followed by $178.7 billion in fiscal 2023, which ended on Sept. 30.