Farm Progress

USDA's Regional Agricultural Promotion Program aims to help American farmers win back overseas markets from rivals like Brazil and Russia.

Bloomberg, Content provider

March 20, 2024

2 Min Read
Combine harvesting soybean field
Scott Olson/Getty Images

By Gerson Freitas Jr. and Isis Almeida

The U.S. is seeing fervent industry support for its program to help the nation’s farmers win back overseas markets from rivals including Brazil and Russia, with agriculture groups seeking more than $900 million in aid.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture received applications for more than three times the $300 million made available in the first round of a five-year export promotion plan, according to Daniel Whitley, the administrator of the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. The $1.3 billion Regional Agricultural Promotion Program, announced last year, is designed to help the industry tap new destinations for American crops. 

The U.S. is throwing money at the agriculture industry in a bid to recoup markets lost over the past decade. Brazil overtook the U.S. last year as the world’s top exporter of corn, after earlier doing the same for soybeans, while Russia has surpassed the U.S. with wheat.

“Many of our competitors are extremely busy and active promoting their products around the world,” Whitley said at the National Grain and Feed Association annual convention in Orlando on Monday. “It’s important that we give you all the tools you need to be successful, and that’s what this RAP program does — it allows you to grow and expand your market and promotion activities.”

Related:Ag committee considers China’s threat to U.S. agriculture

Funds must be used to diversify markets, with one of the main bets to reverse the U.S.’s decline being new export markets in Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Whitley expects applications to be selected by late spring or early summer.

The U.S. is encouraging the private sector “to look at more markets, to be more diversified in where you’re promoting your products, and where you’re building your consumers,” he said in an interview at the event.

He is particularly bullish on Africa. The continent, which is expected to be home to 25% of the global population by 2050, has a growing middle class, increased buying power and a “strong recognition and appreciation for the U.S. brand.” 

“It is vital that we get our companies, our products and our industries there now, and we don’t wait until it’s too late,” Whitley said, noting that competitors such as China are already in the region. “I think Africa presents such a tremendous opportunity.”

© 2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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