US soy group proves biggest winner in USDA funding round

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Westhoff
© GettyImages/Westhoff

Related tags exports American Soybean Association Usda

What will the USDA goal to cultivate increased demand for US agricultural exports in markets globally mean for commodities like soy?

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has allocated US$300m to various trade groups to break into new exports markets. The American Soybean Association (ASA) was awarded $28.5m, representing nearly 10% of the total funding. 

The grants are part of the initial tranche of the USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service’s Regional Agricultural Promotion Program (RAPP).

The funding will facilitate diversification and growth of US soybean exports, helping to meet growing global protein demand, said the ASA.

Other notable beneficiaries include the US Grains Council, receiving $17m, US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) with $21m, and US Poultry and Egg Export Council (USAPEEC) securing over $9m.

Diversifying customer bases

In the current landscape, there's an unprecedented need for promotion of US agricultural exports, according to US soy industry consultant, Gordon Denny, who was commenting on the development in his weekly market review.

Challenges such as competition from South America, projected population growth stagnation, currency fluctuations, logistical hurdles, geopolitical tensions, and evolving trade partnerships underline the urgency for expanding market reach and diversifying customer bases, he believes.

Moreover, the dramatic expansion of US soybean processing capacity has intensified the need for increased exports of soybean meal (SBM), he stresses.

‘It takes time and money to grow new markets’

US agriculture secretary, Tom Vilsack, launched RAPP in October 2023, authorizing US$1.2bn in Commodity Credit Corporation funding to help US exporters expand their customer base beyond traditional and established markets, focusing on regions such as Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and South and Southeast Asia, where consumer demand and purchasing power are on the rise.

“We know the potential is out there, but it takes time and money to grow new markets. USDA is pleased to be able to provide the start-up capital to help tap into these opportunities.”

Understanding import regulations

RAPP, initiated in 2023 following a bipartisan request from the US Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, awards funds to eligible entities, state regional trade groups, cooperatives and state agencies, to facilitate export expansion, and address trade barriers.

The US Dairy Export Council (USDEC) outlined how it plans to expand its presence in Africa by utilizing RAPP funding to better understand and develop dairy import regulations and regulatory frameworks in many markets, while USMEF says it is looking to expand its export efforts to new markets in the ASEAN region and throughout Africa, as well as enhance its investment in the convenience store segment in South Korea, Central America, and Colombia. 

Feed exports

The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) also benefited from this RAPP funding round; it was allocated $800,000 under the initiative.

AFIA CEO, Constance Cullman, said the monies would enable the organization to expand its export expansion efforts for US  feed, feed ingredients and pet food. The export value of those products stood at $13.4bn in 2023, with total volumes exported coming to 19.8 million metric tons.

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