USDA took a key step Thursday in rolling out its new $1.3 billion international marketing initiative, the Regional Agricultural Promotion Program, and unveiled plans for trade missions next year to Vietnam, India, South Korea, Canada, Colombia and Morocco.

USDA posted a final rule for operating RAPP, which will be funded out of the department's Commodity Credit Corporation account.

Commodity groups still need to know how much money is available over what time frame and which foreign countries are eligible as targets for the promotion campaigns. That information won’t be divulged until USDA publishes a notice of funding opportunity, or NOFO.

Lorena Alfaro, executive director for the U.S. Agricultural Export Development Council, said the group is pleased to see the latest publication and stressed that it will “help us assess the framework and rules of the program and brings us closer to getting it rolled out. Now, USAEDC members eagerly await the notice of funding opportunity, which will contain the major details of the program, including the regions and countries eligible for market promotion, as well as the amount that will be available this year under the program.”

USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service will operate RAPP. A source told Agri-Pulse that the agency is “working on all the details now.” 

The program will help fund efforts to promote generic commodities and branded products in foreign markets, but not at equal levels. Just like the program it replaces – the Agricultural Trade Program – RAPP will require farm groups to contribute at least 10% of the funding for generic promotion programs, while companies will have to contribute at least 50%. 

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Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, in a statement accompanying the publication of the RAPP rule and the list of countries the department will be targeting in trade missions, said: “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. 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.”

The USDA trade missions in 2024 will be in Seoul, South Korea, for the week of March 25, New Delhi, India, for the week of Apr. 22, Vancouver, Canada, for the week of June 17, Bogota, Colombia, for the week of July 29, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, for the week of Sept. 9, and Casablanca, Morocco, for the week of Dec. 2.