USDA announces funding for ag export promotion and food aid

The USDA has announced $2.3 billion in funding through the Commodity Credit Corporation to strengthen global trade and provide international food aid.

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack tells Brownfield that $1 billion will be used to help address global hunger.   “We’ve obviously got a crisis, a set of crises around the world that has exacerbated food insecurity,” he says.  “And it’s necessary that US does what it always does, which is to provide assistance and help to those in need.”

The USDA also announced $1.3 billion to help diversify export markets and bolster demand for US agricultural goods through the Regional Agricultural Promotion Program. “This is going to provide resources to help us expand promotion and partnerships,” he says.  “To allow us to work in countries we don’t normally trade with or trade as much with.”

President and CEO of the U.S. Meat Export Federation Dan Halstrom says the funding couldn’t come at a better time as funding for the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program is coming to an end. “The fact that there’s another opportunity here will allow USMEF and other cooperators in other parts of agriculture in the US to maintain some of this momentum in the export markets,” he says.

He says market development programs help U.S. agriculture overcome trade obstacles. “These emerging markets where really, the opportunity is long term,” he says.  “And whatever we can do today to invest for the future, there’s no doubt that there’ll be payback over time.”

Ryan LeGrand, CEO of the U.S. Grains Council says there hasn’t been an increase in market development funds since 2006 and Tuesday’s announcement will help ag groups build demand for U.S. ag products in international markets. LeGrand details what will happen next. “We’re waiting on the allocations to the various ag cooperators to come out,” he says. “So, in the meantime, we’re going to be planning the best we can with the knowledge that we have and look forward to this growth stage for the Grains Council.”

Secretary Vilsack made the announcement as part of the World Food Prize’s Borlaug Dialogue, an event that brings together world leaders and experts to address global food security issues. 

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