The Agriculture Department will counter a decline in farm exports by seeking sales in new markets, including non-traditional destinations, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Thursday. Vilsack announced a calendar of six agricultural trade missions for 2024 and the opening of a comment period on how to allot $1.3 billion in the new Regional Agricultural Promotion Program.
“Market diversification is an important tool for maximizing growth opportunities for U.S. agriculture, as well as hedging the risk of market contraction and general volatility in the global marketplace,” said Vilsack. “USDA is committed to promoting export opportunities in non-traditional markets and ensuring that U.S. agricultural commodities and products are available to diverse consumer groups around the world.”
After setting a record of $196.1 billion in fiscal 2022, U.S. food and ag exports fell to $178.7 billion in fiscal 2023 and are forecast at $172 billion in fiscal 2024, which opened on Oct. 1. Sales to China, the No. 1 customer, are forecast at $30 billion this fiscal, compared to $38.1 billion in fiscal 2022. The USDA will update its export forecasts on Nov. 30.
Agricultural trade missions were planned for South Korea, India, Canada, Colombia, Vietnam, and Morocco in 2024, beginning with South Korea during the week of March 25. Vilsack said the USDA would publish regulations for the new regional trade program on Friday, followed by a 30-day comment period.