The USDA on Thursday announced the winning bids for shares of $200 million under the Agricultural Trade Promotion program, designed to help farm and food groups market and sell products overseas during current trade turmoils that have erupted in the wake of U.S. tariffs of Europe, China, Mexico, Canada, Turkey and elsewhere.

Groups like the U.S. Grains Council, U.S. Meat Export Federation and the Cotton Council International will be getting millions of dollars to help sell U.S. ag products in countries that are levying new tariffs as well as countries that have been historically overlooked.

“We appreciate the USDA’s support of the apple industry and their understanding of the challenges we are facing due to retaliatory tariffs in our export markets,” said Washington Apple Commission President Todd Fryhover. “This funding will be key to building markets and reducing the impact on Washington apple producers.”

Tim Hamilton, executive director of both the Food Export Association of the Midwest USA and the Food Export USA Northeast, said the groups are excited to use the money to help hundreds of small companies that produce everything from fruit snacks to condiments and processed dairy products to “promote their way back into and regain some of their lost market share” in countries like China that are hitting U.S. products with steep retaliatory tariffs.

Hamilton’s groups were two of the fortunate ones. Each got about $14 million under the ATP, but many requests were not funded. USDA confirmed that there were bids for projects valued at about $600 million, three times as much as the funds available in the relatively small emergency program included in the Trump administration’s $12 billion trade assistance program.

“The current trade environment has created real concerns for our members, hitting prices, challenging our market access and creating new non-tariff barriers we must manage to see increased sales,” USGC President and CEO Tom Sleight told Agri-Pulse via email. “We are grateful for these funds and look forward to showing what we can do with them to help the U.S. grains and ethanol sectors make it through these challenging times.”

Beyond countries like China, Hamilton’s groups will also be using the funds for advertising, marketing and promotion in countries that the U.S. isn’t in a trade war with, but may be ripe for expanding imports of U.S. commodities. Countries throughout Southeast Asia, Central America and South America fall into that category, Hamilton told Agri-Pulse.

That’s also part of the game plan for the Southern United States Trade Association, which got about $13 million, said spokeswoman Danielle Coco.

“We will be using funding to open up new markets so that companies can diversify their international marketing strategies and start looking at new countries now that some of their current options are less favorable,” she said.

The funds for the one-time $200 million ATP program are especially needed now because farm and food groups have been unable for months to access USDA’s Foreign Market Development Program (FMD), Market Access Program (MAP) since funding ran out on Sept. 30.

“We still have to do these things on faith and use our own funds,” Hamilton said.

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