Washington Apple Commission and wider agricultural industry welcome new funding to support export diversification

Washington apple promotion in Vietnam

Washington apple promotion in Vietnam

US agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack has announced the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is providing US$1.3bn to help American producers maintain and develop markets for their commodities.

The funding from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) will go towards a new export promotion and foreign market development programme, called the Regional Agriculture Promotion Program (RAPP).

“The CCC continues to address the needs of American producers as significant and unpredictable challenges arise, including impacts to international commodities markets and global food insecurity in the wake of ongoing conflict and a changing climate,” said Vilsack.

“The CCC and USDA’s market development and aid programmes are critically important at this time, and with this additional support we can strengthen US agriculture’s presence in existing markets, open up new market opportunities, and build on our relationships and connections to ensure that high-quality American agriculture and food products reach where they are needed in the world.”

The news has been welcomed by industry with the likes of the Washington Apple Commission (WAC) which said the funding will allow the Commission to continue the work of the Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP) programme and California almond cooperative Blue Diamond Growers.

Washington apple win

According to the WAC, USADA said the RAPP would “target activities toward countries indicating increased demand for high quality and high value agricultural products while helping… to ensure that the work started with the existing ATP programme… can continue”.

Put into place during the Trump administration, the ATP programme was designed to help mitigate the damages from the additional trade tariffs on imports. The RAPP will provide additional programme funds in the absence of a new Farm Bill. Commodity groups have been trying to increase the available Market Access Program funds through the Farm Bill for over a decade as funding for MAP has remained stagnant at US$200m.

Lindsey Huber, international marketing manager for the WAC, said the new RAPP funds give the Washington Apple Commission the opportunity to continue and build on the success of these strategies that have been put into place over the past five years 

“We are thrilled to hear the announcement of the new export promotion programme,” said Lindsey Huber, international marketing manager for the WAC.

“Funding from the Market Access Program has been essential to our success over the years, and the introduction of ATP funds provided additional opportunities to promote Washington apples in new and even more exciting ways. We’re eager to continue the work we started with the ATP programe and believe RAPP will allow the Washington Apple Commission the opportunity to further promote Washington apples in our export markets.”

The ATP programme allowed the WAC to focus on social media and digital marketing strategies at a higher level that would not have been possible without the funding. Tailored in-country platforms were established which allowed the Commission the opportunity to educate and reach more consumers while also being able to connect online activities to on-the-ground activities. This in turn helped drive consumers into retail. ATP funds also helped the WAC collaborate with Key Opinion Leaders on social media, leveraging the existing trust consumers have in influencers.

Almonds applaud funding

Crower-owned Callifornia almond cooperative Blue Diamond Growers was also excited by the news. It said the additional funding will allow Blue Diamond and the US almond industry to amplify market development efforts, driving higher returns and growth for the entire industry.

“Opening and accelerating markets is essential to sustaining California almond growers, who face some of the highest agriculture production costs in the country,” said Alicia Rockwell, chief government affairs officer of Blue Diamond Growers.

“Trade programmes like RAPP help to strengthen industry investments leading to longer, more robust promotions to stimulate consumption.”